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Ci'imeii nostyum est asscvtio ccclesiasticcg libevtatis : cam namquc 
profitci'i UsiS majestatis reatus sub persccutove nostra est. 

St. Thomas to Stephen, Chancellor of Sicily. 



orchard street, w. 


Catholic Publication Society Co. 

BARCLAY street. 


T+ Ht. 






reduced from Willis and Stanley. 

It may be permissible to express a doubt whether these 
authorities are correct in givin^c a square end to the 
chapel of the Blessed Trinity. Built as it was by Prior 
Conrad, in the time of St. Anselm, it will surely have 
ended in an apse. 

The course taken by St. Thomas at his martyrdom is 
marked by the dotted line. It will be seen that at the 
last he was so close to the altar of St. Benedict, that 
when he fell on his right side, or to the north, he must 
have been before the altar. The apses still remaining in 
the eastern transepts show how near the altar was to the 
hne of the transept wall. 


1. Christ's, or the High Altar; below, in the Crypt, 
Our Lady Undercroft. 

2. St.Elphege-s ) shrine and altar. 

3. St. Dunstan s ) 

4. The Lady Altar. 

5. St. Benedict, with St. Blaise above. 

6. St. Martin, with St. Mary Magdalene below. 

7. St. Stephen, with St. Nicholas below. 

8. St. Andrew, with Holy Innocents below. 

9. B. Trinity, between the shrines of St. Wilfrid on the 
north and St. Odo on the south, with the altars of St. John 
Baptist and St. Augustine l:)elow. 

10. SS. Peter and Paul, afterwards St. Anselm, with 
St. Gabriel below. 

11. St. John the I*3vangelist, with St. Paulinus below. 

12. St. Gregory, with St.Ouenand before it St. Catherine 

13. St. Michael, with All Saints above. 

14. Holy Cross on the steps at the head of the nave. 

15. The Patriarchal Chair. 

The Places of Pilgrimage in the Cathedral before 
THE Reformation. 

A. The Shrine and Altar of St. Thomas: his tomb below 
in the Crypt. 

B. The Crown of St. Thomas. 

C. The Altar at the Sword's Point. 

Approximate Dates of the Present Building. 

Taken from Christ Church, Canterbury ; a Chronological 
Conspectus of the existing Architecture. By W. A. Scott 
Robertson, Hon. Can. 1881. 

r. South porch, 1422. 

2. Oxford Steeple, 1440 to 1452. 

3. North West Tower, 1832 to 1834. 

4. Nave, 1379 to 1400. 

5. Central Tower, 1495 to 1503. 

6. Western Transepts, 1382 to 1400. 

7. Stained glass in north window of Martyrdom, 1470' 
to 1480. 

8. Chapter House : doorway and arcading, 1304. 

Windows and roof, 1382 to 1400. 
g. Cloisters: Vaulting and screens, 1397 to 1412. 

North wall, mural arcading, two doorways 
and triple arcading of doorway into 
Martyrdom, 1226 to 1236. 
Doorway into Martyrdom, inserted i486 
to 1489. 

10. Lady Chapel (Dean's Chapel), 1449 to 1468. 

11. Choir arcades and vaulting to east end of Eastern 
Transepts, and upper portion of exterior walls of Choir 
(William of Sens), 1175 to 1178. Crj'pt, 1096 to iioo. 

12. Trinity Chapel and Becket's Crown, with crypts 
beneath them (William the Englishman), 1179 to 1184. 
Black Prince's chantries in the crypt, 1370 to 1379. 

13. Baptistery, lower part, 1165, upper, 1397 to 1412. 

14. Choir aisles. Eastern Transepts, St. Andrew's and 
St. Anselm's Chapels, iioo to 1115. 

15. Treasury, now Vestry of Dean and Chapter, 1135 to 

16. Henry IV. 's Chantry, 1425 to 1435. 

17. Stained glass in two windows of north aisle of Choir,, 
three lights in Trinity Chapel north aisle, and in central 
window of Becket's Crown, 1226 to 1236. 

II. St. Michael's Chapel (Somerset or Warrior Chapel),. 
1397 to 1412. 


— ^ — 

The first edition of this book was pub- 
lished in 1859, and for twenty years it 
has been out of print. In this interval 
much has been done to promote a know- 
ledge of the life of St. Thomas of Canter- 
bury. Six volumes have appeared in the 
Rolls Series, entitled Materials for the 
History of Thomas Beckct, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, admirably edited by the late 
Canon James Craigie Robertson. Unfor- 
tunately the collection is not yet complete, 
and it would have been very greatly to 
the advantage of the present work, if at 
least the concluding volume of the letters 
had been pubHshed. In 1859 the only 
edition of the biographies and of the cor- 


respondence accessible, excepting that of 
Lupus, was the voluminous but incorrect 
and confused edition published by Dr. 
Giles. To that edition all references then 
were necessarily made, but now they have 
all been carefully transferred to the Rolls 
edition, as far as it extends. 

The student of the life of St. Thomas, 
when using the letters as edited by Dr. 
Giles, was absolutely without assistance in 
the chronology. All who have the pleasure 
of working with Canon Robertson's edition 
in their hands, have the advantage derived 
from the chronological order in which the 
letters are arranged, together with the help 
given by most painstaking and intelligent 
editing. The labour of comparing the 
whole life of St. Thomas with the Rolls 
edition has been considerable, but it has 
been well repaid by the correction of some 
errors, and of one important disorder in 
the chronology. 


In addition to the help derived from 
Canon Robertson's edition of the origina 
documents, two or three further errors have 
been now rectified, which were pointed out 
by him in his Btxkct, a Biography. 

Each successive volume of the Materials 
for the History of Thomas Becket, has given 
a full account of the authors of the various 
biographies there published. The editor 
reserved to the close of his labours the 
necessary work of arranging these writers 
in their proper order, as that followed by 
him in the publication of the volumes was 
quite arbitrary. This purpose he did not 
live to carry into effect, but the work has 
since been excellently done by Mr. Eirikr 
Magnusson, sub-librarian of the University 
of Cambridge, in his Preface to the Thomas 
Saga Erkibyskups, also in the Rolls Series. 
That order has been adopted in the follow- 
ing account of the biographers of St. 

I Vol. ii. p. xix. 


A fresh set of notes in the Appendix, 
and the insertion of much matter that 
after the pubhcation of the first edition 
was inserted by the present writer in the 
Dublin Review for November i860, have 
made this new edition half as large again 
as its predecessor. 

The statements in this book are to be 
regarded as resting on the authority of 
one or more of the nine biographers of 
St. Thomas first mentioned in the following 
account of them ; and it has not been 
thought necessary to burden the pages of 
the work with references to show from 
which of them each statement has been 
derived. All other authorities, and more 
particularly the letters, are quoted through- 
out the book. 


The life of St. Thomas of Canterbury is excep- 
tionally well known. More than seven hundred 
years have elapsed since he died, and yet his 
history stands out before us with a distinctness 
and minuteness that is extremely rare among 
the records of great men. The witnesses to the 
facts are both numerous and trustworthy. They 
wrote of matters of which they had personal 
knowledge, and their writings were in the hands 
of those who were the most capable of judging 
of their truthfulness. The universal and vehe- 
ment interest taken in all that concerned St. 
Thomas, while later on it may have caused an 
embroidery of legends to be attached to his 
name, would ensure attention to the minutest 
details while the story was yet fresh, and this 
is a guarantee for accuracy and care. The sub- 
stantial agreement of several writers, evidently 
independent of one another, is a further assur- 
ance of fidelity. The personal character of the 
writers is above suspicion, and their ability 
manifest ; and lastly, all that skilful editing can 
do for them has happily been done, and that too 
at the public expense. 


I. Benedict, a monk of Christ Church, Canter- 
bury, is said by the editor of the Qnadriloguc 
(about 1220) to have been on the day of the 
martyrdom among the Saint's more intimate 
friends, and to have recorded those things of 
which he was an ear or eye witness. He wrote 
only of the martyrdom and of the subsequent 
miracles. No copy of his narrative of the mar- 
tyrdom exists, but considerable fragments have 
been preserved in the Quadrilogue. The miracles 
are now in six books. Of these the last two are 
by another hand, as events are there related 
which happened after Benedict's death. He 
died in 1193 or 1194 at Peterborough, of which 
house he was made abbot in 1177. The fourth 
book of miracles is of about the date of Bene- 
dict's election as Abbot of Peterborough, for it 
mentions the great fire at Rochester, which 
occurred in the April of that year. But the work 
is not in strict chronological order, for after the 
passage relating to the fire, a letter is inserted 
addressed to Odo as Prior of Canterbury ; but 
Odo was made Abbot of Battle, and Benedict 
himself became Prior of Canterbury in 1175. 
The first three books of miracles, according to 
Mr. Magnusson, formed the original volume, and 
all that is related in them happened during the 
seventeen months that followed the martyrdom. 
In July, 1 1 72, William was charged to record 
the miracles in addition to Benedict, who had 
fulfilled that office from the beginning. By 
this fact Mr. Magnusson ingeniously dates not 
Benedict only but Fitzstephen. For Fitzstephen 


says that there was a Codex which was read in 
the Chapter at Canterbury, which related the 
miracles wrought in England, and he adds that 
those in France, Ireland, and elsewhere had as 
yet no historian. This Codex was Benedict's 
volume, ending then with the third book ; and 
Mr. Magnusson concludes that Benedict's three 
books were written before Fitzstephen's Life of 
St. Thomas ; and further that Fitzstephen wrote 
before William of Canterbury began, that is 
within the first seventeen months. The argu- 
ment is pressed perhaps a little too closely, as 
there would be but one Codex until William had 
made some progress with his work. Afterwards 
Gervase speaks of two volumes of miracles, 
Benedict's and William's, and the mention of 
one by Fitzstephen may fairly be taken to mean 
that there then was but one. 

Mr. Magnusson gives a second indication of 
the date of Benedict's volume. In the second 
book of the miracles Benedict quotes a letter 
from Robert of Cricklade, Prior of St. Frides- 
wide's, Oxford, narrating the cure of a hurt in 
his leg that he had received about twelve years 
before in Sicily. The register of St. Fri- 
deswide's (now in C.C.C. Oxford), evidently 
written by this Prior, says that Pope Adrian IV. 
confirmed the privileges of St. Frideswide's. 
Assuming this confirmation to be what took 
Robert of Cricklade abroad, the lapse of twelve 
years from the time of Adrian IV., who reigned 
from 1154 to 1159, would bring us no later than 
1171-72, as the date of the letter to Benedict ; 


and this date tallies with the conclusion drawn 
from Fitstephen. 

II. William Fitzstephen gives his own creden- 

I was the fellow-citizen of my lord, his cleric, 
and one of his household. Called by himself to a 
share of his anxieties, I was dictator in his chancery; 
when he sung Mass, I was the subdeacon of his 
chapel ; when he sat to hear causes, I read the 
letters and documents that were presented ; and I 
conducted some causes at his bidding. I was present 
with him at the Council of Northampton, where 
matters were transacted of such high importance ; 
I saw his martyrdom at Canterbury ; and of many 
other things which are here written I was an eve 
and ear witness, while others, again, I learnt from 
those who witnessed them. 

There is a very curious point connected with 
Fit2stephen's book. The life is as favourable to 
St. Thomas as any of the others, but it is not 
alluded to by any of them ; and more remark- 
able still, Fitzstephen himself is not mentioned 
once, though at least on two very important 
occasions he was by. St. Thomas's side. Though 
Herbert of Bosham professes to give a full list 
of the Saint's companions, and mentions several 
who had far less to do with him than Fitzstephen, 
of Fitzstephen himself he says nothing. Mr. 
Magnusson would account for this singular silence 
by supposing that Fitzstephen's work, though 
written one of the first, was not published till 
after the death of Henry II., of whom he speaks 


with much severity. He considers that Mr. Foss, 
in his Judges of England, has succeeded in identi- 
fying Fitzstephen with a person of that name 
who was made Sheriff of Gloucestershire in the 
first year after the death of St. Thomas, and 
afterwards acted as Judge itinerant, probably till 
his death in 1191. But though this might in 
some way account for the silence of the other 
writers about Fitzstephen's book, how would it 
account for their making no mention whatever 
of himself? Some little mystery still attaches 
to the circumstance. 

III. John of Salisbury is placed third by Mr. 
Magnusson, because Roger of Pontigny refers to 
two books only, John's, who was not yet a Bishop, 
and Benedict's, who was then Prior of Canter- 
bury. As Benedict became Prior in 1175 and 
John was made Bishop of Chartres in 1176, this 
times the book with much exactness. It is un- 
necessary to give here any summary of the life 
of this most distinguished scholar, as his name 
appears frequently in the following pages. He 
was an invaluable friend to St. Thomas, and an 
honest and trusted admonitor. 

IV. Edward Grim, a secular clerk of Cam- 
bridge, was present at the martyrdom, and has 
become famous by his having been wounded in 
defence of the Saint. His life, which bears a 
strong resemblance to Garnier's and Roger's, was 
finished after 1175 and before 1177, as he speaks 
of Benedict as Prior. 

V. Roger of Pontigny was probably the author 
of the Life which is printed as anonymous by 



Canon Robertson. Mr. Magnusson leans to the 
opinion that it really is Roger's, and Canon 
Robertson hardly thinks it improbable. Thomas 
•of Froidmont saj's that the Saint had as his 
attendant at Pontigny a monk named Roger. 
The writer of this life was at Pontigny when 
St. Thomas arrived there, and he speaks of the 
monks of Pontigny as his brethren. He writes 
as a foreigner, translating Garnier's en Engldcrrc 
by in partibns illis, and explaining that hides of 
land are so called patrio nomine. He once writes 
Liindre)isis for Londonicnsis, which an Englishman 
would not have done. He mentions John of 
Salisbury as a distinguished man, but not as 
Bishop, and Benedict as Prior, which gives 
'^'^75-7^ 3-S the date of the book. The writer 
tells us that he was ordained priest by St. Thomas. 
That he had Gamier before him as he wrote is 
shown by his rendering tutus et capuciatus, where 
tutus has no meaning, for Garnier's description of 
St. Thomas's falling into the millstream tut encha- 
peronez, " with his hood completely over his 
head." This seems to show that Mr. Magnusson 
has dated the book a little too early, for Garnier's 
Life was not finished till 1176. 

VI. William of Canterbury entered the monas- 
tery of Christ Church during St. Thomas's exile, 
and he was admitted to the habit and ordained 
deacon by the Saint a few days before the mar- 
tyrdom. He was present in the Cathedral at the 
martyrdom, and he ran up into the choir in 
fright when he heard Fitzurse call out " Strike, 
rstrike ! " 


William wrote a Life of St. Thomas, in addi- 
tion to his collection of miracles. With the 
exception of the passages from the Life extracted 
by the compiler of the Qnadrilogne, this book 
was entirely unknown until it was published by 
Canon Robertson, in part in the Archaologia 
Cantiana, and in full in the Rolls Series. The 
manuscript is the only remaining book of those 
bequeathed by William of Wykeham to his Col- 
lege at Winchester. In his will he speaks of it 
as " the book on the Life of St. Thomas, called 

At the end of seventeen months after the mar- 
tyrdom, William was set aside to help Benedict 
in the compilation of the miracles, and his book 
when written was preferred, even by Benedict 
himself, to Benedict's own. William was sent, 
with his book, to King Henry at the King's 
request, but he must have reckoned on the im- 
probability of its being read by the King, or 
translated to him literally, for there are many 
things in it that would not have pleased him. 
Again and again William blames the invasion 
of Ireland, as' "disquieting without cause 
unarmed neighbours, a people, which though un- 
civilized and barbarous, honours the true faith 
and observes the Christian religion." The King's 
visit to Canterbury when he asked for the book 
was in 1174, and the work seems to have been 
finished shortly after Odo's appointment as 
Abbot of Battle in 1175. The Life is thought 
to have been written in the following year. 
I Materials, i. p. 364. 


VII. Gamier de Pont S. Maxence, or, as he 
calls himself, " Guernes li clers, de Punt de Saint 
Mesence nez," wrote in French verse his Life of 
St. Thomas between the second and the sixth 
years after the martyrdom. In return for his 
poem he received from " I'abesse, suer saint 
Thomas," Mary, who became Abbess of Barking 
in 1173, a palfrey with its trappings ; and, as to 
the Nuns of Barking, he says : 

et les dames m'ont fet tut gras 
chescune d'eles de sun dun. 

The following verses will give a further speci- 
men of the language and versification, while at 
the same time they are interesting as giving the 
date of the composition of the Life and its claim 
to credit : 

Guernes li clers del Punt fine ici sun sermun 

del martir saint Thomas e de sa passiun. 

e mainte feiz le fist a la tumbe al barun. 

ci n'a mis mi sul mot se la verite nun. 

de ses mesfaiz li face li pius deus ueir pardun. 

Ainc mais si bons romanz ne fu faiz ne trouez. 
a Cantorbire fu e faiz e amendez. 
n'i admis un sul mot qui ne seit ueritez. 
li vers est d'une rime en cine clauses cuplez. 
mis languages est bons : car en France fui nez. 

L'an secund que li sainz fu en iglise ocis, 
comenchai cest romanz et mult m'en entremis. 
des priuez saint Thomas la verite apris, 
mainte feiz en ostai co que io ainz ecris, 
pur oster la menconge. al quart an fin i mis. 

Gamier was edited by Immanuel Bekker (Ber- 
lin, 1838), and again by M. Hippeau of Caen 


(Paris, chez Auguste Aubry, 1859). The last 
volume of the Rolls Series of Materials for the 
Life of Archbishop Thomas Becket is to contain 
the French lives. 

VIII. Alan, originally a monk of Christ Church, 
went to Benevento, whence he returned in 1174. 
He was made Prior of Christ Church in 1179, 
Abbot of Tewkesbury^ in 1186, and there he died 
in 1202. He collected the 529 letters which 
Lupus published, and he wrote a Life of the 
Saint as a preface to them, which is headed in 
the Vatican MS. Prohemium auctoris infrascriptas 
epistolas recolligentis. This Life was avowedly 
written to supplement the short Life by John of 
Salisbury, and it was in existence when Herbert 

IX. Herbert of Bosham is mentioned so fre- 
quently in the following pages that little need 
be said of him here. He wrote a Life of St. 
Thomas and another book called Liber Melorum, 
in a terribly prolix and wearisome style, but 
Herbert could not fail to tell us many interesting 
things, and the work could not be spared, for all 
its tediousness. Before the Life has far advanced, 
he tells us that he was writing in the fourteenth 
year after the martyrdom, that is, 1184, and when 
he was finishing his book, Pope Urban III. was 
Pope, who died in 1187. 

X. To the nine biographers already mentioned, 
may be added Gervase, a monk of Christ Church 

2 Alban Butler, misled by Baronius, calls him Abbot of 


at Canterbury, who gives St. Thomas a large 
place in his chronicle. He thus excuses himself: 

No one should feel weary of whatever can be told 
with truth of so great a martyr. His holiness excited 
my affection, and his kindness attracted me : he 
granted me the habit in the very year in which he 
was consecrated Archbishop ; to him I made my 
profession, and from his hand I received holy orders. 
He also appeared to a brother of mine of his own 
name, to whom, amongst other sweet things, he said 
this in secret : " I have done so much, I have done 
so much that the names of my monks, and of the 
clerics who are bound to them, might be written in 
the Book of Life." And when the cleric, being 
anxious about himself, said to the Saint : " My lord, 
how will it fare with myself?" the Saint, gently 
smiling, laid his hand on his head and kissed him. 

Gervase mentions the writers who had pre- 
ceded him, Herbert, John of Salisbury, Benedict, 
Alan, whom he speaks of as the compiler of the 
volume of letters, and William of Canterbury. 

XL We owe to a very unexpected source the 
knowledge that St. Thomas had yet another con- 
temporary biographer, and the information comes 
to us from Iceland. Robert of Cricklade, Prior 
of St. Frideswide's in 1154, Chancellor of Oxford 
in 1 159, wrote a Latin Life of St. Thomas, which, 
forgotten in his own country, became the founda- 
tion of the Icelandic tradition respecting our 
English martyr. Mr. Magnusson has given us 
in the Rolls Series the Thomas Saga, a fourteenth 
century compilation, with a literal English trans- 
lation and an interesting preface. He identifies 


Prior Robert of " Cretel," whom the Saga quotes, 
with Robert of Cricklade by the letter to Prior 
Benedict which the Saga gives, and which is- 
recorded by Benedict also. 

The most valuable portion of the Icelandic- 
book is naturally that which professes to be 
taken directly from Robert of Cricklade. Two 
passages we will here give relating to St. 
Thomas's early life, which are expressly drawn 
from Robert, and they, with two other short 
and interesting extracts, will serve to close this 
Introduction. These passages, which are of suffi- 
cient importance and interest to be given in full, 
describe the relation of the Archdeacon Thomas 
to Archbishop Theobald, and his devout life and 
chaste habits when Chancellor. 

Now whereas Thomas hath spent two years amidst 
courtly manners, and hath passed twenty years by 
four, he waxeth weary with such ways of living, in 
that he perceiveth how, in many things, the deeds of 
worldly lords turn straight against the right and the 
lionours of learned folk. He therefore betaketh him- 
self awaj' from such a life, and seeketh Theobald, of 
good memory. Archbishop of Canterbury, who hath 
been named already, and secureth for himself a place 
in his service, more through his own device and 
working, than by any pleading or commendation of 
other folk. And within a short time he so brings 
his affairs about, that by reason of his wisdom and 
lowliness and faithful service, he is counted among 
the foremost friends and privy counsellors of the 
Archbishop, yea and right worthily so indeed, for 
Prior Robert writeth thereon an excellent discourse, 
and right profitable to many, how he had both the 


wisdom and the will to honour his master. The 
Prior witnesseth that the Archbishop was a simple 
man, somewhat quick of temper and not as wary of 
word, if his mind was stirred, as the rule of meek- 
ness utmost demandeth. His eloquence too was of 
a kind that much lay thereon, in most cases, how 
matters happened to be taken up, if he chanced to 
hold converse with folk of might. But against either 
failing the blessed Thomas setteth his good will and 
wisdom, in such a manner that if in any matter the 
Bishop happened to wax wroth, Thomas giveth 
forth answers all the meeker, thus appeasing the 
heart of his spiritual father. So also on the other 
hand, if the speech of the Archbishop happened to 
fail him in aught, Thomas hastened to succour him, 
and clothed it in clerkdom in such a way that at 
once the discourse of the Archbishop appeared like 
a text with a fair commentary to it. Behold him, 
already now, a man of excellence, both as to lowli- 
ness of heart and zealous heed of the law. Formerly 
he fled from the kingly court for that one reason, 
that he might not see the evil deeds of the lay 
powers against the Church ; but now he serveth 
his master in such strength of mind, that never was 
there found in him any pride at all, but he was the 
lower before God, the higher he was before men 
(pp. 36, 37). 

Concerning the habits of St. Thomas as Chan- 
cellor : 

So Robert writes that there was a certain person, 
a nigh kinsman of his [Robert's] who sought the 
King's Court about the time in which the story 
goeth. He had on hand certain affairs, on the happy 
issue of which he deemed that much might lay. 
He setteth his mind, as many a man in England 


now listed, on first seeing the Chancellor Thomas, 
to expound to him the nature of his affairs and to 
pray him for some furtherance thereof. Now by 
reason of his reaching the town not till the day is 
far spent, a laudable custom forbiddeth him to go 
before such a mighty man on a late eventide, where- 
fore he betaketh him to his chamber. But in early 
morn, already when day was a-breaking, he be- 
stirreth himself for the carrying out of his errands. 
Now the way taketh such a turn, that he must needs 
go by a certain church, and in the twilight he soon 
seeth lying before the door of the temple a man 
prostrate in prayer even unto earth. And when as 
he stands bethinking him of this sight, there comes 
upon him, as oft-times may happen, some sneeze 
or a kind of coughing. And forthwith starts he who 
lay kneeling on the ground, and rises straightway 
up, then lifteth his hands up to God and thus ends 
his prayer, and thereupon walks away thence to his 
chamber. The new comer was right eager to know 
who of the townspeople might follow such laudable 
ways, and therefore he taketh an eyemark against 
the lifting day-brow, both of his growth and the 
manner of attire he wore, that he might the rather 
know him if he should happen to see him afterwards. 
Nor did that matter long await a true proof, for 
no sooner hath he leave to see Chancellor Thomas, 
than he well perceiveth that the very growth and 
raiment which he had noted before, belongeth to no 
man but to him alone ; for even now Thomas putteth 
off his overgarment, as if he had just entered into 
the room. This person testified to his kinsman 
Robert, when he came home, what virtue and godly 
fear he had found in the blessed Thomas, straight- 
way against the thinking of most people ; and hence 
it came to pass that the Prior put this deed into his 
writings [on St. Thomas] (pp- 5i> 53)' 


The name of Prior Robert is not attached to 
the following passage, but it is short and certainly 

At the time when Stephen had become King of 
England, the blessed Thomas cometh home from 
school. He was now two and twenty years of age, 
slim of growth, and pale of hue, dark of hair, with a 
long nose and a straightly featured face ; blithe of 
countenance was he, keen of thought, winning and 
loveable in all conversation, frank of speech in his 
discourse, but slightly stuttering in his talk, 3 so keen 
of discernment and understanding that he would 
always make difficult questions plain after a wise 
manner (p. 29). 

There is one more passage that we must give, 
as it clears up all difficulty respecting the 
Danegeld."* Mr. Magnusson is the first to quote 
a very apposite passage from the Leges Edwardi 
Confessoris, of which the following is a translation. 

Of this Danegeld all the land was quit and free, of 
which churches had the property or lordship, even 
that belonging to parish churches, and they paid 
nothing in its stead, for they placed greater trust in 
the prayers of Holy Church than in defence of arms. 
And this liberty had Holy Church up to the time of 
William the younger, who asked aid from the Barons 
of the whole country to keep Normandy from his 
brother Robert, who was going to Jerusalem. And 
they granted him four sot from every hide, not ex- 

3 That St. Thomas stuttered somewhat, Mr. Magnusson says, 
recurs in all his personal descriptions in Icelandic records, 
but this is borne out by no other contemporary author (Pref, 
p. xcvii.). 

4 Infra, p. 112. 


cepting Holy Church ; and when the collection of 
these was made, the Church protested and demanded 
her liberty, but it availed her nothing. 

In accordance with this, Thomas Saga says : 

We have read afore, how King William levied a 
due on all the churches in the land, in order to repay 
him all the costs, at which his brother Robert did 
depart from the land. This money the King said 
he had disbursed for the freedom of Jewry, and 
therefore it behoved well the learned folk [/.^., clergy] 
to repay to their King. But because the King's Court 
hath a mouth that holdeth fast, this due continued 
from year to year. At first it was called Jerusalem 
tax, but afterwards Warfare-due, for the King to keep 
up an army for the common peace of the country. 
But at this time matters have gone so far that 
this due was exacted, as a King's tax, from 
every house, small and great, throughout England, 
under no other name than an ancient tax payable 
into the royal treasury without any reason being 
shown for it. This kind of proceeding Archbishop 
Thomas nowise liked, saying that it is by no means 
seemly for the King to exact such money with the 
some boldness as any other King's taxes, but only 
according as circumstances and need should require 
for the peace of the folk of the land ; but beyond 
this reason there Avas no duty which demanded the 
paying of such reserve taxes (i. p. 139). 


Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . ix 

The Biographers of St. Thomas .. .. .. xiii 

Chapter I. — Gilbert and Matilda. 1117 — 1143. Birth 
and parentage of St. Thomas — the Saracen legend — his 
mother's dreams — his birth and baptism — his mother's 
devotions — he is sent to Merton Abbey, the London 
schools, and Paris University— his father a Norman — 
he is saved from death in a mill-stream — his mother's 
death— he becomes clerk to the sheriffs — reminiscence of 
a sickness in Kent — he enters the service of the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury . . . . . . . . i 

Chapter II. — The Court of Canterbury. 1143 — 1154. 
St. Thomas introduced to Theobald — the Archbishop's 
Court — personal description of St. Thomas — ill-will of 
Roger de Pont I'Eveque — the legatine office— St. Thomas 
visits Rome — the primacy of Canterbury over York — - 
St. Bernard's help — the Council of Rheims — St. Thomas 
revisits Rome — the succession to the Crown — the Saint's 
ecclesiastical preferment — his study of canon law at 
Bologna and Auxerre — Roger Archbishop of York and 
St. Thomas Archdeacon of Canterbury — death of King 
Stephen — Pope Adrian IV. . . . . . . • • 15 

Chapter III. — The Lord High Chancellor. 1155 — 
1161. Coronation of Henry II. — St. Thomas made Chan- 
cellor — his office — he expels the Flemings — restores the 
Tower — his magnificence — hospitality — recreations — inti- 
macy with the King — his austerities — purity — devotions 
— his embassy to France — war of Toulouse— and in the 
Marches — personal deeds of valour — friendship of King 
Louis— conversation with the Prior of Leicester . . 26 

Chapter IV. — The Chancellor's Policy. 1155 — 1161. 
Military career of the Chancellor — Gilbert Foliot refuses 
the administration of London — second subsidies — the ^*^^ 
Chancellor interferes in behalf of the Archdeacon of 



London, of John of Salisbury, the Archdeacon of Kouen, 
and the Bishop of Le Mans — difficulty of the position — 
Battle Abbey — judgments on the Chancellor's conduct . . 40 

Chapter V. — The Death of Theobald. 1158 — 1161. 
Visit of the King and the Chancellor to Paris — Pope 
Alexander III. — Archbishop Theobald's failing health and 
anxiety— abuses — vacancy of bishoprics — new Bishops of 
Coventry and Exeter — Theobald's desire for the return of 
the King and the Chancellor — the Archbishop's death . . 53 

Chapter VI. — The new Archbishop. 1161 — 1162. The 
Chancellor returns to England — the King resolves he 
——shall be Archbishop— intimation to the monks — election 
at Westminster — Foliot's conduct — Archbishop elect dis- 
charged of all liabilities — he goes to Canterbury — his 
ordination and consecration — feast of the Blessed Trinity 
— the pallium . . . . . . . . . . 61 

Chapter VII. — The Archbishop ix his Church. 1162. 
Sanctity of the new Archbishop — change of circumstances 
— manner of life— hospitality to the poor — study of Holy 
Scripture — private prayer — Mass — his dress — affiliation 
to religious orders — the stole — Confirmation . . • • 73 

Chapter VIII. — The Archbishop in his Palace. 1162. 
Public life — the dining-hall — the Saint's hospitality — his 
almsgiving — life amongst the religious — ordinations — con- 
firmation of episcopal elections — his conduct as judge — 
his seal — his hair-shirt . . . . . . . . 82 

Chapter IX. — Gilbert Foliot. 1162. The Archbishop 
resigns the chancellorship and the archdeaconry — recTfiims 
alienated Church lands — William de Ros — the Earl of 
Clare, Tunbridge, Saltwood, and Hythe — the King returns 
to England — meeting of King and Archbishop — Christmas 
in London — translation of Gilbert Foliot to London — 
Foliot's antecedents — purpose of his translation . . 90 

Chapter X. — A Lull before the Storm. 1163. The 
Saint and the King at Canterbury and Windsor — St. 
Thomas resigns the guardianship of the Prince — he , 
attends the Council of Tours — canonization of St. Anselm 
— consecration of Reading Abbey — translation of St. 
Edward the Confessor — consecration of the Bishops of , 
Worcester and Hereford . . . . . . • • 99 

Chapter XI. — The first Wrongs. 1163. Resignation 
of the chancellorship^resumption of Church lands — 
sermon before the King — excommunication of William of 
Eyncsford— Clarcmbald, Abbot elect of St. Augustine's— 



the Council of Woodstock and the sheriffs' tax — crimes 
of Churchmen, Philip of Brois and four others — their 
punishment . . . . . . . . . . loiJ 

Chapter XII. — The Council of Westminster. 1163. 
Proceedings at Westminster — Archdeacons' exactions — 
punishment of criminal clerks — the royal customs — the 
clause saving his order — castleries resigned — the King leaves 
London^advice of the Bishop of Lisieux — three Bishops 
join the King — meeting near Northampton between the 
King and the Archbishop — the King's embassies to the 
Pope — expostulations with St. Thomas — he promises to 
yield — he writes to the Pope about Roger of York and 
also about the King — the Holy Father encourages him . . 118 

Ch.\pter XIII. — The Couxcil of Clarendon. 1164. 
St. Thomas regrets his promise to yield — expostulations 
of Bishops, Earls, and Templars — the Saint yields and 
promises to observe the royal customs — the Bishops make 
the same promise — the Constitutions of Clarendon written 
—the Saint's objections to" some of them — seals asked 
for and refused — the cross-bearer's reproach — the Saint's 
repentance — Herbert consoles him — the Saint abstains 
from Mass, and asks absolution of the Pope .. ..130 

Chapter XIV. — Negotiations. 1164. The King asks 
that the Archbishop of York may be Legate — the Abbot 
elect of St. Augustine's — Gilbert Foliot's profession — 
King Louis of France — St. Thomas asks the Pope to 
confirm the Constitutions of Clarendon . . . . 146 

Chapter XV. — The Council of Northampton. 1164. 
St. Thomas tries to see the King — his unsuccessful attempt 
to cross the Channel — he returns to Canterbury — inter- 
view with the King — Council summoned at Northampton 
— John the Marshal and his appeal — St. Thomas reaches 
Northampton — interview with the King before the Council 
met — proceedings of the first day — fine for contempt — 
John the Marshal — accounts of chancellorship — second 
day's proceedings — further money demands — the Saint 
deserted by his retainers — third day spent in consul- 
tations .. .. .. .. .. .. 154 

Chapter XVI. — The Fight. 1164. Sickness of St.Thomas 
— Tuesday the 13th of October — rumours of violence — 
appeals to the Holy See — Mass of St. Stephen — the Arch- 
bishop's cross — threats — the Bishops avoid taking part 
in a sentence — the Barons' message from the King — 
the Saint's reply — the Bishops' conduct — the Earl of 



Leicester's speech — St. Thomas's answer — insults — the 
Saint returns to the monastery . . . . . . 164 

Chapter XVII. — The Flight. 1164. Return to St. 
Andrew's — dinner with the poor — visit of two Bishops 
— three others sent to the King — preparation for a night 
in the church — Herbert's private orders — St. Thomas 
leaves Northampton — rides to Lincoln — by boat to the 
Hermitage — the Saint's flight made known — the King's 
letter to King Louis of France — St. Gilbert of Sempring- 
ham . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 

Chapter XVIII. — Exile. 1164. From the Hermitage, by 
Boston, Haverholme, and Chicksand to Eastry — the Saint 
hears Mass in concealment — embarks at Sandwich and 
lands near Gravelines — adventures — is recognized — goes 
to Clairmarais — Herbert arrives from Canterbury — the 
King's party pass — St. Thomas goes to Eldemenstre and 
to St. Bertin's — interview with Richard de Luci — the 
Saint escapes from the Count of Flanders by the help of 
the Bishop of Therouanne — he reaches Soissons — Louis 
receives Henry's letter and St. Thomas's envoys . . 193 

Chapter XIX. — The Pope. 1164. King Louis sympa- 
thizes with St. Thomas — the envoys on both sides see the 
Pope — the public audience of King Henry's ambassadors 
■ — they leave Sens, and St. Thomas arrives— he is received 
by the Pope, and after three weeks spent at Sens, he 
retires to Pontigny . . . . . . . . . . 204 

Chapter XX. — Pontigny. 1164 — 1166. Life of St. Thomas 
at Pontigny — Abbot Guichard and his hospitality — Roger 
of Pontigny — sacred studies — the King confiscates the 
Saint's possessions, and banishes four hundred of his 
relatives and friends — public prayers for him forbidden — 
the exiles come to Pontigny— they are provided for by the 
charity of Christendom — the Saint's austerities — he takes 
the Cistercian habit— he is made Legate — Abbot Urban 
sent to King Henry — three letters to the King — Henry's 
sharp answer, and the Saint's anxiety . . . . . . 214 

Chapter XXI. — Vezelav. ii56. King Henry dallies with 
schism — his angry words against St. Thomas — he appeals 
to the Holy See against the Saint, who absents himself 
from Pontigny when the Archbishop of Rouen and the 
Bishop of Lisieux bring notice of the appeal — St. Thomas 
is confirmed in the primacy and made Legate — his letters 
to England — he goes to Soissons, and thence to Vezelay, 
where he publishes various censures — the Bishops appeal 



— the Pope confirms the censures — the King threatens 
the Cistercian Order — St. Thomas leaves Pontigny — he 
foretells his martyrdom to two successive Abbots— he 
promises the monks a reward — St. Edmund's relics rest in 
the abbey church — an altar erected there to St. Thomas 
after his martyrdom — miracles . . . . . . 229 

Chapter XXII. — Sens. 1166. The Saint leaves Pontigny 
— hospitality of King Louis, by whom he is maintained at 
Sens — the Pope's journeys — St. Thomas accompanies him 
to Bourges — subsequent miracle where he lived — "sweet 
France" — John of Oxford successful in his appeal — the 
Saint remonstrates against the appointment of Cardinal 
William of Pavia as Legate — Cardinals William and Otho 
appointed Legates, with full powers — John of Oxford 
lands in England — St. Thomas, John of Salisbury, and 
Lombard of Piacenza write to the Pope . . . . 247 

Chapter XXIII. — The Cardinal Legates. 1167. Double 
dealings of John of Oxford — limitation of the powers 
of the Cardinal Legates — their long journey — letter of 
William of Pavia and two draughts of an answer — the 
Cardinals visit St. Thomas at Sens and King Henry at 
Caen — meeting at Les Planches between the Cardinal 
Legates and the Saint — the Cardinals return to the King, 
who shows them discourtesy — councils and conferences- 
fresh appeals — the Cardinals' departure . . . . 260 

Chapter XXIV. — "Meanwhile." 1168. Absolutions of 
excommunicated persons — proposed translation of St. 
Thomas — messengers to the Pope from both sides — 
conferences between the two Kings at Nantes — John of 
Salisbury, Herbert of Bosham, and Philip of Calne have 
interviews with King Henry — the Pope suspends the 
Saint's powers — St. Thomas expostulates with the Pope. . 277 
Chapter XXV. — The Kings. ii6g. The Cardinal Legates 
recalled — a new embassy from the Pope — meeting between 
the Kings of England and France near Montmirail — 
St. Thomas invited to the conference — he stands firm, 
while his own followers and King Louis turn against him 
— the people praise him — he refuses a second conference 
— the Kings meet again — the Pope restores St. Thomas's 
powers — King Louis again becomes his friend . . . . 296 

Chapter XXVI. — Clairvaux. 1169. At Clairvaux on 
Palm Sunday St. Thomas excommunicates the Bishop of 
London and others — these sentences generally disregarded 
at Court — publication of the Bishop's excommunication 



in St. Paul's on Ascension Day — the danger run by the 
Archbishop's messengers — the King's violence when angry 
— Gilbert Foliot's appeal in Lent — meeting of Bishops at 
Northampton on Trinity Sunday — King Henry's letter to 
Foliot--further excommunications on Ascension Day — 
courageous conduct of the Bishop of Worcester— the 
Pope requests St. Thomas to suspend the censures for 
a time . . . . . . . . . . . . 309 

Chapter XXVII. — The Pope's Envoys. 1169 — 1170. 
King Henry tries bribery on a large scale — has recourse 
to the King of Sicily — Gratian and Vivian appointed 
Envoys by the Pope — their interviews with Henry — 
Gratian returns to the Pope with the Archbishop of Sens 
— St. Thomas threatens an interdict, if the King does not 
repent — the King imposes a new oath on his subjects, and 
obtains a conference with King Louis by a pilgrimage 
to St. Denys — at Vivian's request St. Thomas comes to 
Montmartre, and terms are agreed on by Henry, who 
however refuses to ratify them by a kiss, and retires to 
Mantes — St. Thomas lodged in the Temple — the English 
Bishops resist the King — Henry returns to England . . 325 

Chapter XXVIII. — Outrage and Peace. 1170. The 
Archbishop of Rouen and the Bishop of Nevers receive 
authority from the Pope — they absolve the persons ex- 
communicated — St. Thomas's letter to Cardinal Albert — 
coronation of Prince Henry by the Archbishop of York — 
courage of the Bishop of Worcester — the Pope repeats the 
threat of an interdict — Henry's insincerity — conference in 
Traitors' Meadow^reconciliation . . . . . . 344 

Chapter XXIX. — Disappointment. 1170. King Henry 
does not keep his engagements — St. Thomas has various 
interviews with the King — the Pope's action — the Saint 
prepares to return to England — the King's leave to ex- 
communicate the Bishops concerned in the coronation- 
indications of coming danger — last words with the King — 
John of Salisbury precedes the Saint, who leaves Sens, 
and passes through Flanders— from Wissant he sends the 
Pope's letters of censure to three Bishops in England — 
further indications of danger — St. Thomas crosses from 
Wissant to Sandwich — his reception and entrance into 
Canterbury . . . . . . . . . . . . 365 

Chapter XXX.— The Return. 1170. Joy in Canterbury 
at the Saint's return — the three Bishops demand abso- 
lution in vain, and then cross the sea — Prior Richard sent 



to the young King at Winchester— St. Thomas goes to 
Rochester and Southwark — a servant sent to the Earl of 
Cornwall, who returns with a warning — St. Thomas meets 
the Abbot of St. Alban's at Harrow — outrages of Randulf 
de Broc — return to Canterbury — William the poor priest 
of Chidingstone — Confirmations by the way — the Saint 
enters Canterbury — holds an ordination — Prior Odo — 
interview between the three Bishops and the King — his 
anger — four knights leave Normandy for Saltwood Castle 
— St. Thomas at Canterbury on Christmas Day — his last 
letter to the Pope — the knights come to Canterbury . . 381 

"hapter XXXI.- — The Birthday. 1170. The last morning 
— Matins — the thought of flight — Mass— spiritual con- 
ference and confession — dinner — the coming of the four 
knights — the interview— the knights call to arms — John of 
Salisbury's remonstrance — the panic of the monks— the 
Saint enters the church — the knights follow through the 
cloister — the Saint's last words — the martyrdom . . 401 

Chapter XXXII. — Absolution, i 170— i 172. The palace 
sacked — the Saint's body — devotion of the people — threats 
of Randulf de Broc — the Saint's vestments— he is buried 
in the crypt — the body removed for a short time — miracles 
— the Cathedral reconciled — grief of the young King — 
conduct of King Henry — his messengers to the Pope- 
sentence of his Holiness — absolution of the Bishops — the 
King goes to Ireland — his absolution at Avranches . . 420 

Chapter XXXIII.— Penance. 1171 — 1174. The four 
murderers — coronation of Margaret, wife of the young 
King — elections to the vacant sees — rebellion of the young 
King — King Henry's visit to Canterbury — his penance at 
the Saint's tomb— St. Thomas's sisters and their children 
— victory over the King of Scots — St. Thomas's dream — 
Herbert taxes the King with the Saint's death — pilgrimage 
of King Louis of France — John of Salisbury elected Bishop 
of Chartres — Herbert of Bosham — Alexander Llewellyn — 
other friends of the Saint . . . . . . . . 438 

Chapter XXXIV.— Miracles. 1170— 11S5. The first 
miracle — Prior Odo's report ; cures of William de Capella, 
William Belet, Huelina of London, Brithiva of Canter- 
bury, William of London, an anchoret, a boy of fifteen — 
appearances of the Saint — Benedict's vision — story of the 
Patriarch of Jerusalem — Edward Grim's arm — John of 
SaHsbury's account— St. Edmund and St. Thomas— cure 
at Chartres . . . . . . . . • • • • 454 



Chapter XXXV.— Honour and Dishonour. 1173, 1220, 
1538. Canonization of St. Thomas — the Bull — Council of 
Bishops — Choir of Canterbury burnt and rebuilt— Trans- 
lation of St. Thomas — Cardinal Langtpn's sermon— ^the 
Quadrilogue — the altar at the sword's point — the tomb — 
the Crown of St. Thomas — the shrine — its description — its 
destruction — St. Thomas tried by Henry VHI. — Bull of 
Paul HI. — Patronage of St. Thomas . . . . . . 466 

Chapter XXXVI. — Legends. The Saracen Princess — 
St. Mark's day at Sens — the water made wine — the 
chasuble turning red — the Mass of a Martyr — the eagle 
and the oil-cruet — the tails of the people of Stroud — 
St. Thomas's well— the nightingales at Oxford — our Lady's 
little chasuble — the Seven Joys of our Lady . . . . 487 

Chapter XXXVII. — Kindred and Memorials. The Butlers 
Earls of Ormond — the Saint's sisters — two nephews buried 
at Verona — Blessed John and Peter Becket, Augustinian 
Hermits at Fabriano; — Minerbetti — Becchetti— Morselli — 
St. Catherine of Bologna — mosaics at Monreale — vestments 
at Anagni — chapels at Fourvjeres and St. Lo — mitre at 
Namur — altars at Liege and Rome — relics at Veroli and 
Marsala — relics now existing and many more that have 
perished . . . . . . . . . . . . 505 

Note A. — The Saracen Princess 

B. — The Saxon School in Rome . . 

C. — Gilbert Foliot's pamphlet 

D.— Battle Abbey 

E. — The Chancellor's policy 

F. — St. Thomas in Flanders 

G. — The Earl of Norfolk and the Canons of Pentney 

H. — St. Thomas and St. Godric 
I.— The Martyrdom 
J. — Isabel Countess of Warrenne . . 

K. — The Murderers 

L. — Christ Church, Canterbury . . 

M.— The Head of St. Thomas 

N. — Erasmus' visit to Canterbury.. 

O. — Memorials and Relics of St. Thomas . . 

• 523 

• 525 
. 528 

• 533 

• 557 
. 563 
. 566 
. 570 
. 577 
. 581 
. 584 
. 592 

• 597 
. 601 
. 606 
. 611 





1117— 1143. 

Birth and parentage of St. Thomas — the Saracen legend — his 
mother's dreams — his birth and baptism — his mother's devo- 
tions — he is sent to Merton Abbey, the London schools, and 
Paris University — his father a Norman — he is saved from 
death in a mill-stream — his mother's death — he becomes 
clerk to the sheriffs — reminiscence of a sickness in Kent — ■ 
he enters the service of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

One of the most conspicuous and familiar objects 
in the neighbourhood of London is the high hill 
and pointed spire of Harrow. The church, which 
is now so marked a feature in the landscape, has 
not lasted as many years as the record of the tale 
we are about to tell. Its predecessor was doubt- 
less as much in harmony with its site as that 
which we now see, for the taste of church-builders 
of that age was as unfailing as if it had been an 
instinct. Guided by this landmark, two horse- 
men, in the year 1143, or thereabouts, made their 
way from London to the Court of Theobald Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, which was at the archi- 
episcopal manor of Harrow-on-the-Hill. 



The one was a plain serving-man, whose name 
was Ralph of London. The other was scarce 
distinguishable from him by his dress, as the sim- 
plicity of the times dictated to the son of an 
impoverished London merchant ; but his tall 
handsome figure, and large bright eye, beaming 
with the happy anticipation of a new and con- 
genial mode of life, his free and self-possessed seat 
upon his horse, and the air and bearing of a 
gentleman in his every movement, betrayed to an 
observer what the humble equipments of both 
and the familiarity of intercourse between them 
would have concealed, that the younger was the 
master, and the other his attendant. The some- 
what awful interview with the Archbishop, on 
which so much depended, was postponed to the 
morrow ; and they sought the shelter of a hostelry 
in Harrow. Doubtless an unusual bustle pre- 
vailed in the little village from the presence of the 
Archbishop with his train ; still something in the 
appearance of our humble travellers seems to have 
attracted the notice of their hostess ; for when the 
next morning came, she told her husband that 
she had dreamt during the night that one of the 
new-comers had covered their parish church with 
his vestments. The good man, who did not know 
who they were, said, " Perhaps it portends that 
one of them will be some day lord of this church 
and village." The figure which had impressed 
itself on the imagination of the dame was that of 
Thomas Becket, the future Archbishop of Canter- 
bury and martyr. 

This is by no means the only event in the early 


annals of his life of an unusual character which 
his many contemporary biographers have placed 
on record. The tale, however, which is the 
best known connected with his parentage, is 
behind none of them in singularity, while it sur- 
passes them all in poetic beauty ; but, unfor- 
tunately, its romantic character is its sole claim 
to insertion. It is impossible to refrain from 
relating the legend, although its first appearance 
is in a compilation the date and authorship of 
which are equally unknown. It runs thus : 

His father Gilbert was a citizen of London, 
who, in the flower of his youth, took upon him 
the Lord's cross, and set forth for Jerusalem 
accompanied by a faithful servant of the name of 
Richard. They fell into the hands of the Sara- 
cens, and were set to work as slaves in chains 
for an ''Amirald,"^ that is, an Emir or prince. 
Some year and a half had gone by, and Gilbert 
had made no little progress in the favour of his 
master, being constantly called to stand before 
his table, to be questioned on all that could 
gratify an Oriental curiosity respecting the 
countries and inhabitants of the West. His 
daughter was often a listener at these conversa- 
tions, and her admiration for Gilbert was at 
length betrayed when she heard that he would 
willingly die for his faith. She offered to become 
a Christian, if he would make her his wife. 
Gilbert was a cautious soul ; and, fearing some 
womanish craft, put her off with fair words. An 
opportunity of escape from his bondage at length 
I From this we have our English word "Admiral." 


came, of whicli he and his companions availed 
themselves. The poor maiden who was left 
behind, strong in her love, and forgetful of her 
people and her father's house, one night set forth 
alone in search of the Englishman who had fled. 
Her knowledge of any language but her own was 
confined to the two names " London " and 
"Becket;" and these, as she wandered on, she 
incessantly repeated. At length, associating her- 
self with returning pilgrims, she reached the city, 
the name of which she had learned from Gilbert 
as that of his home. Following still the method 
that had brought her thus far, she was pursued 
by a crowd of idle children ; when Richard, the 
serving-man, passing through the street, caught 
the sound of his master's name, and happily 
recognised her. Gilbert hardly seems to have 
been delighted at the news, though surely the 
poor thing's " womanish craft " was simple 
enough now ; but his prudence being still pre- 
dominant, he ordered Richard to place her under 
the charge of a matronly neighbour, while he 
betook himself to St. Paul's, to ask his Bishop's 
counsel. By the advice of the prelate, who 
happened to be in conference with his brother 
Bishops, after the maiden had been duly in- 
structed in the Catholic faith, and solemnly bap- 
tized, the story says, " by six Bishops," he took 
her to wife. The legend does not end here ; but 
adds, that on the day after the wedding Gilbert 
was seized with a longing desire to revisit the 
Holy Land ; and his bride, having gained from 
him the cause of his sadness, gave her con- 


sent to his departure, if only he would leave 
Richard to be her interpreter. 

During his absence the son was born of whose 
life this story forms the introduction ; whom, on 
his return at the end of three years and a half, he 
found all that his heart could wish. Thus far the 
fable, ^ which is not mentioned by one of the many 
contemporary biographers of our Saint. Their 
simple assertion is that he was the son of Gilbert 
and Mahalt or Matilda Becket,^ citizens of 
London ; and this is what he says himself in his 
letters when he had occasion to speak of his 

Previous to his birth, his mother dreamed that 
the river Thames flowed into her bosom. Startled 
by so unusual a dream, she went to consult a 
learned religious, who, having forewarned her 
that dreams were not to be attended to, nor a 
woman's visions made much of, told her that in 
Scripture water signified people, but that he could 
not undertake to interpret her vision. She 
dreamt again that when she was visiting Canter- 
bury Cathedral to pray there, her child prevented 
her entrance. This time, however, she did not 

2 See Note A at the end of the volume. 

3 The name of Becket appears very seldom. Edward Grim 
uses it twice, "Pater ejus Gillebertus, cognomento Beket," and 
" Ubi est Thomas Beketh, proditor regis et regni (Materials, 
ii. pp. 356, 435). The Lambeth MS. says: " Gilbertus quidem cog- 
nomento Becchet, patria Rothomagensis " (Materials, iv. p. 81). 
And Garnier calls the Saint's father " Gilebert Beket." Thus 
we have only one contemporary instance of the name being 
applied to the Saint himself. Usually he was called " Thomas 
■of London." The form " a Becket " is a colloquialism of com- 
paratively recent date. 


return to consult her adviser, fearing lest he 
should reproach her with toll}'. 

As the time of his birth drew near, it seemed to 
his mother as if twelve stars of unusual brillianc}' 
had fallen into her lap. It is also said that she 
dreamt that she was bearing Canterbury Cathe- 
dral ; and that, when the Saint was born, the 
nurse, as she held him, exclaimed, " I have an 
archbishop in my arms." 

He was born on Tuesday, December 21st, in 
the year 1118; and after Vespers, on the same 
day, he was baptized by the name of St. Thomas 
the Apostle, whose festival it was. On the very 
day of his birth a fire broke out in his father's 
house, which did great damage to the city. A 
writer of those times says, that the only draw- 
backs to a residence in London were the preva- 
lence of drunkenness and the frequency of fires. 

He was still the subject of his mother's sleeping 
as well as waking thoughts. After his birth she 
dreamt that, on upbraiding the nurse for leaving 
her child uncovered in the cradle, she was told 
that a beautiful red silk quilt was over him ; and 
that when she examined the beauty of its needle- 
work, she found, on trying with the nurse to 
unfold it, that the room in which they were, the 
street, and eventually "the great space of the 
open plain of Smithfield,'''^ were too small to 
permit them to do so : a voice the while telling 
them that they tried in vain, for that all England 
could not contain it. 

4 " Smithfield " is " Smoothfield " according to Stowe 
{Materials, iii. p. 6). 

my— 1 143'' GILBERT AND MATILDA. 7 

It was an admirable thin.s: for St. Thomas, and 
one that left a deep impression on all his life, that 
the mother from, whom he received his earliest 
instructions should have been of a devout and 
gentle nature. He used himself to say, that with 
the fear of the Lord, he had learnt from her two 
prominent devotions. The one was a great love 
of the holy Mother of God, whom he was accus- 
tomed to invoke as the guide of his paths and 
the patroness of his life, and in whom, after 
Christ, he was thus taught to place all his confi- 
dence ; the second was a great compassion for 
the poor. And for these two virtues he was 
always remarkable. 

A pretty little story, showing how our Blessed 
Lady returned the affection of her young client, is 
recorded by Herbert of Bosham, one of his most 
intimate friends, to whom he himself told it. 
When quite a child, as he was recovering from a 
violent fever, it seemed to him that a lady, tall of 
stature, with a calm countenance and beautiful 
appearance, stood by his bedside, and having con- 
soled him by a promise that he should get well, 
gave two golden keys into his hands with these 
words : " Thomas, these are the keys of Paradise, 
of which thou art to have the charge." 

At an early age he was placed under the care 
of Robert, Prior of Merton, of the Order of 
Canons Regular, who was ever after his faithful 
friend and spiritual guide, his confessor while 
he was chancellor, and finally a witness of his 
martyrdom. While St. Thomas was under him, 
an event occurred which proves that not his 


mother only, but also his father, had been 
taught by God the future greatness of their son. 
One day Gilbert went to see him ; and as the 
boy came into the room, the father made a 
most humble reverence and obeisance to him. 
The good Prior, indignant at this, said, " Old 
man, you are mad ; what are you doing ? Do 
you throw yourself at the feet of your son ? 
The honour you do to him, he ought to do to 
you." Gilbert answered the Prior secretly, " Sir, 
I know what I am doing ; for this boy will be 
great before the Lord." 

Though his father was but a London merchant, 
and his mother in all likelihood had never been 
out of England, there is a singularly Eastern tone 
in these stories characteristic of the times, spring- 
ing in part, perhaps, from the intercourse with 
the Holy Land that frequent pilgrimages pro- 
moted. In many things Englishmen of those 
days showed much of an Oriental temperament, 
which their successors of the present time have 
not inherited. 

The parents of the Saint, at the time of his 
birth, were in moderate if not affluent circum 
stances. His father was a Norman, who had 
been Sheriff of London. His friends, as far as 
we have any record of them, were all Normans.^ 

5 Richier de I'Egle (Garnier, fol.*5, 1. ii ; Grim, p. 359; Rog. 
Pont. p. 6) was a Norman baron, whose name appears amongst 
the barons present at Clarendon (Cotton. MSS. Claud. B. 2, 
fol. 25; Wilkins, Leg. Anglo-Sax. Lond. 1721, p. 322). Baillehache 
(Garnier, fol. *6, 1. 13 ; Rog. Pont. p. 10) was a Norman soldier, 
and Baldwin the Archdeacon and Master Eustace (Fitz-St. 
p. 15) were French ecclesiastics. Thierry ( la Conqucte, 


Frequent fires and other misfortunes, we are told, 
reduced Gilbert's family from the wealthy position 
it had formerly held ; but the change of his cir- 
cumstances does not seem to have alienated his 
old friends from him. A rich and well-born 
soldier of the name of Richier de I'Egle is par- 
ticularly mentioned as having frequented his 
house, with no little influence on the mind of the 
youthful St. Thomas. He was especially fond of 
hunting and hawking, and from him St. Thomas 
acquired a taste which he never entirely lost.^ 

In company with Richier, an adventure befell 
him in which the hand of God may well be 
held to have interfered to save so precious a life. 
They were riding together, following their hawks, 
when they came to a rapid mill-stream, which 
was crossed by no better bridge than a foot-plank. 
De I'Egle, in the eagerness of sport, urged his 
horse over it, closely followed by St. Thomas, who 
had his cloak wrapt tightly round him, with his 
hood over his head. As he reached the middle 
of the bridge, his horse's foot slipped, and horse 
and boy together fell into the stream. He was 
drawn quickly down by the current, and was in 

ii. liv. 9) imagined our Saint to have been of Saxon descent, and 
upon this error he built a theory. Lord Campbell has followed 

6 It is amusing to see, among the miracles recorded after the 
death of St. Thomas, that several relate to hawks, one of them 
to a splendid falcon called Wiscard, belonging to the King. The 
lord of Parthenay in Poitou on the loss of his hawk thus 
addressed the Saint : " Give me back my hawk, O martyr 
Thomas, for we know that once you were occupied with such 
pleasures, and felt pain at losses like mine." It is needless to 
say that the hawk was recovered (Will. Cant. pp. 528, 502). 


imminent danger of being crushed by the mill- 
wheel. The man in charge of the mill, knowing 
nothing of what was going on, suddenly turned 
off the water. The shouts of De I'Egle, which 
the noise of the wheel had hitherto prevented 
being heard, now drew the attention of the miller, 
who rescued St. Thomas from his dangerous posi- 

There is another account of this occurrence, 
which says that he leaped into the water after his 
hawk, forgetful in his eagerness of his own danger. 
Either form of the story is in close accordance 
with the naturally ardent and impetuous character 
of the Saint. There is a local tradition, w'hich 
says that the scene of this providential rescue is a 
spot now called Wade's Mill, between Ware and 
St. Edmund's College. His pious mother was 
much struck by this deliverance ; and she added 
it to the other wonders on which she pondered, 
which led her to the conclusion that God had 
great designs in store for her son. One of her 
religious practices is very beautiful. She was 
accustomed at certain seasons to weigh her child, 
placing in the opposite scale bread, meat, clothes, 
and money, and other things which were neces- 
sary for the poor, and then to distribute all to 
those who were in want. In this way she always 
strove to commend him to the mercy of God and 
the protection of the Blessed Mary ever a Virgin. 

It was a sad day for the Saint when he lost this 
watchful and loving mother. Matilda died when 
he was twenty-one years old ; and Gilbert not 
long surviving her, he was left to his own re- 


sources, — his father's means having become 
too restricted to leave him much of an inheritance. 
He had previously studied in the London 
schools as well as at Merton Abbey. Three 
great schools there were attached to the prin- 
cipal churches, and on feast days the scholars 
would hold their disputations in the churches 
where the feast was celebrated. On such occa- 
sions the boys of the several schools would meet 
and there would be a lively competition in verse, 
or in their knowledge of their grammar. Their 
sports were not less vigorous than their literary 
contests. Shrove Tuesday morning had its bar- 
barous pastime. The boys would bring their 
fighting cocks with them, and the school would 
be turned into a cockpit under the master's eye. 
The afternoon of Shrove Tuesday was devoted to 
a general game at ball outside the city, while the 
Sundays in Lent were given up to tilting at the 
quentin, which game after Easter was played in 
boats on the river. Fitzstephen, who tells us all 
this, describes the summer and winter sports ; in 
the latter the skating was on thigh bones fastened 
to the feet, an iron-pointed staff being held in the 
hand. Hawking and hunting there was in plenty 
for those that could afford it, the citizens having 
rights of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, the 
Chiltern Hills, and in Kent down to the River 

In this boyhood spent in London, perhaps the 
sports had more than their share of the school- 
boy's time, for when he first went to the Court of 
the Archbishop, Thomas of London was con- 


sidered to be less learned than his two compe- 
titors, Ro^er of Neustria, and John of Canter- 
bur}-. They were, however, men ot unusual 
ability and acquirements ; and we are told that 
Thomas far excelled them in prudence and 
manner of life, and that he was not long surpassed 
by them in learning. 

Our Saint had been sent for a time to the 
University at Paris ; not, however, we may 
be very sure for the motive which has been 
recently assigned ; for it could hardly be neces- 
sary for the son of the Norman Gilbert Becket, 
or for the companion of the '' noble and very 
rich " Richier de I'Egle, to go abroad that he 
might lose his Saxon accent. He spent his 
twenty-second year, — that is, 1140, — without an 
occupation, in his father's house. This was after 
his return from Paris ; for it was to his mother he 
principally owed his liberal education : and the 
account of the state of his father's means, after 
Matilda's death, does not seem such as to lead us 
to think that he could then afford his son the ad- 
vantage of a foreign residence. He then went to 
live with Osbern Witdeniers,'' a relation of his, and 
a very wealthy man, who probably held high 
office in the city, as St. Thomas is said to have 
been " clerk to the sheriffs." \\' ith him he lived 

7 Dr. Giles's edition of Grim (Vita, i. p. 8) says, " Octo- 
numini cognomine." Garnier, as printed by Bekker from the 
MS. in the Brit. Mus. (fol. *5 b, 1. 22) gives "dit Deniers," but 
the MS. of the BibHotheque Royale " Witdeniers." The last 
is proved to be the correct reading by the " Octo " of Grim; 
while the Latin should be read, " Octonummi," as the French 
shows. The name " Eightpence " has not reached our times. 


for three years, keeping the merchant's accounts, 
and acquiring business-like habits which were 
eventually to benefit both State and Church". 

It was not, however, a position much to his 
taste ; but still it needed long deliberation, and 
much urging on the part of his friends, to induce 
him to apply for employment to the Archbishop 
of Canterbury. 

We get a curious glimpse into St. Thomas's 
life, if not about this time, yet at least before he 
rose to wealth and dignity ; and it comes to us in 
an equally curious manner. Amongst the 
miracles which took place by the Saint's inter- 
cession soon after his martyrdom, is the follow- 
ing, with the simply told narrative of which this 
necessarily desultory chapter may close. A poor 
girl of about fifteen had suffered agonies from a 
most fearful cancer. From harvest-time to the 
month of March it had grown worse and worse, 
and at length her illness seemed to have had a 
fatal termination. She lay in her bed without 
food, her limbs drawn up, her eyes opened and 
glazed, and altogether giving no sign of life. At 
length, towards nightfall, when she had been thus 
from Tuesday till Friday, a neighbouring woman 
who was very fond of her came in, and thinking 
her certainly dead, said, " How came you to let 
the poor child die in her bed ? Why did you not 
place her on sackcloth, after the Catholic 
custom ? " On this, the body, which had 
stiffened, was laid out in the courtyard of the 
house, covered with a sheet and surrounded 
with lights as usual. Her father, Jordan of 


Plumstead, in the diocese of Norwich, worn out 
with his grief and his day's work, had dropped 
asleep ; but thus awakened, he cried out, " Is 
CeciHa dead ?" The woman rephed, " She most 
certainly is dead." On which the father began : 
" O blessed Thomas, martyr of God, pay me now 
for the service I once so heartily did you ; pay me 
now for my service ; now I am in want of it. I 
served you heartily before you w^ere raised to 
worldly honours ; pay me now for my service. 
Remember, blessed martyr, when you were ill in 
Kent, in the house of Thurstan the cleric at 
Croydon, how heartily I served you : wine and 
beer and strong drinks you could not touch, and I 
ransacked the neighbourhood for some whey for 
you to drink. Pay me for my service. Then you 
had only one horse, and I took care of it. Pay 
me for my service. Remember, martyr, all the 
trouble I took for 3-ou : you are not so poor, that 
I should have served you for nothing."' And so 
he spent half the night, saying, till he was quite 
hoarse, " Pay me for my service." The holy 
martyr heard him ; and Cecilia moved her hand 
from under the sheet, and tried to speak. The next 
day she took some nourishment ; on the third the 
cancer dried up ; and in three weeks, without 
medicine of any kind, she was quite well. Wil- 
liam,^ the Bishop of Norwich, examined the priest 
of the place and many witnesses ; and, on her 
going on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to the 
shrine of the Saint at Canterbury, sent with her 
testimonial letters attesting the miracle. 

8 William Turbo, a Norman, consecrated Bishop of Norwich 
in 114G, died Jan. 20, 1174 (Gervase, Ed. Slubbs, p. .'.jG). 



1 143— 1 154. 

St. Thomas introduced to Theobald — the Archbishop's Court — 
personal description of St. Thomas — ill-will of Roger de Pont 
I'Eveque — the legatine office — St. Thomas visits Rome — the 
primacy of Canterbury over York — St. Bernard's help — the 
Council of Rheims — St. Thomas revisits Rome — the succes- 
sion to the Crown — the Saint's ecclesiastical preferment — his 
study of canon law at Bologna and Auxerre — Roger Arch- 
bishop of Y'ork and St. Thomas Archdeacon of Canterbury — 
death of King Stephen — Pope Adrian IV. 

St. Thomas was introduced into the Archbishop's 
service under very favourable auspices. Not only 
had Theobald a personal acquaintance with the 
Saint's father, who was like himself a native of 
the village of Thierceville in Normandy, but 
Gilbert was familiar with priests and other offi- 
cials of the Archbishop's Court and household, 
whom he had been in the habit of entertaining. 
Two brothers from Boulogne, Baldwin the Arch- 
deacon and Master Eustace, interested themselves 
with the Primate in his favour. But St. Thomas 
was principally induced to place himself under 
Theobald's protection by the representations of 
one of the Archbishop's marshals called Baille- 
hache, who had long been intimate with Gilbert. 

The Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury was 
the centre of almost all the learning and ability . 


of the kingdom. Amongst those who composed 
it when St. Thomas joined their number was 
Roger the future Archbishop of York, John of 
Canterbury, afterwards Bishop of Poitiers and 
Archbishop of Lyons, as well as the men destined 
ultimately to hold most of the episcopal sees of 
the kingdom. As we have said, the early educa- 
tion of our Saint seems to have been of a desul- 
tory character ; and he keenly felt his inferiority 
in learning to those by whom he was now sur- 
rounded. His natural genius being of a very high 
order, and his perseverance indomitable, it was 
not long before he rendered himself as fit as any of 
his competitors for whatever office or undertaking 
might be intrusted to him. He was remarkable 
for the acuteness of his bodily senses. It was 
matter of frequent comment through his life, that 
scarcely anything could be said in his presence, 
however far off, or in however low a tone, but 
he could hear it if he chose to listen. So, too, 
there was nothing which could affect the sense of 
smell, which would not immediately either offend 
or gratify him, from however great a distance. 
His eye was remarkably large and clear, and his 
glance so quick and comprehensive that nothing 
escaped him. He was unusually tall, with a 
prominent and slightly aquiline nose. His coun- 
tenance was beautiful, and his expression habitu- 
ally calm. The tradition of all later times has 
always drawn him without a beard, but this detail 
of his appearance is not mentioned by his bio- 
graphers. The vivacity of his conversation and 
his fluency, combined with the refinement of his 


language, spoke at once of the high quahties of 
his natural gifts, and of the tone of his education. 

After a while, when Theobald came to know 
him thoroughly, and to value him as he deserved, 
he made him a member of his council, and trusted 
him highly ; but at first his position in the Arch- 
bishop's favour was endangered by the jealousy 
of one whose hostility continued through life, 
even when they both of them filled archiepiscopal 
sees. Roger de Pont I'Eveque showed his jea- 
lousy of the Saint on their first being thrown 
together by derisively calling him Clerk Baillchache, 
from the name of the man at whose instance he 
had joined the Archbishop's household. The 
allusion to an axe in the Norman name leads 
one of his biographers to say, that "he would 
one day prove to be an axe to hew Roger and 
his accomplices from the company of the just." 
Twice he was the cause of the Saint's banishment 
from the Archbishop's Court, ere he was yet firm 
in the favour of that prelate. On each occasion 
he was restored to his position by the influence 
of Walter, the Archbishop's brother, then Arch- 
deacon of Canterbury, who was his steady friend 
through life. 

In a short time his noble qualities so endeared 
him to the Archbishop, that he employed him in 
the conduct of the most delicate and important 
matters. King Stephen was seated on the throne 
of England ; and his brother, the well-known 
Henry of Blois, was Bishop of Winchester. 
Pope Innocent, who had celebrated in 1139 the 
General Council of a thousand Bishops, called 


the Second of Lateran, which was attended by 
Theobald and four other Enghsh bishops, had 
made Henry of Blois his legate in England. In 
virtue of this authority, Henry held two synods 
in the year 1142, a little before the time when St. 
Thomas joined the Archbishop. However, the 
possession of the legatine power by a suffragan 
was not found to work well, and the two prelates 
interested went to Rome to submit the question 
to the Holy See. This was in 1143, the year in 
which Pope Innocent died. The political state 
of Rome was most unsettled ; and as the Sacred 
College felt the danger of an interregnum, the 
Chair of Peter was vacant only a day. However, 
Pope Celestine II. reigned but six months; and, 
after another vacancy of one day, Lucius suc- 

When St. Thomas visited Rome in company 
with Archbishop Theobald, the Holy Father was 
probably at the Vatican, under shelter of the 
Castle of St. Angelo, which was in the hands of 
those who were faithful to him. Trastevere then, 
as ever, prided itself on its fidelity; while the 
rest of the city was in a very turbulent state. 
Such a position of affairs can hardly have been 
favourable to the discussion of the business which 
led them to Rome. Theobald was doubtless 
successful, for we have no further mention of 
Henry as legate ; and the Archbishop presided 
in that capacity over the next council which was 
held in England. As, however, this synod was 
not before the year 1 151, we do not know whether 
his success was immediate. 


It would be very interesting to know where 
St. Thomas lodged in the Eternal City ; but we 
have nothing to guide us to the spot. The 
hospital, the munificent foundation of John and 
Alice Shepherd, was not founded for the next 
two hundred years ; it was then dedicated, as 
its successor the English College now is, to the 
Blessed Trinity, in honour of our Saint. The 
Anglo-Saxon establishment, of which the memory 
is preserved in the name of Santo Spirito in 
Sassia, and with which are connected the names 
of Ina, Ethelwolf, Alfred, and Canute, still exist- 
ed,' but in great poverty. The other English 
foundations were all of a later date than St. 
Thomas's visit. 

There was another matter of considerable 
importance, the management of which may very 
probably have been intrusted b}^ Theobald to 
St. Thomas. It was one which rose into still 
greater consequence when the Saint had suc- 
ceeded his master and patron in the see of Can- 
terbury, — the precedence of that church over the 
archbishopric of York, and the claim of the nor- 
thern metropolitan to have his cross borne before 
him in the province of Canterbury. In St. 
Gregory's letter, dated June 22, 601, which is 
extant in Venerable Bede,^ the Pope decreed that 
St. Augustine was to be Superior of the whole 
island, but that after his death, the two metro- 
politans of London (as he intended) and York 
were to be independent of one another, taking 

I See Note B. 
2 Hist. Eccl. Gentis Anglor. i. c. 29. 



precedence by priority of consecration. On this 
letter York rested all its claim to a complete 
exemption from the authority of Canterbury. But 
it is clear that the rule given in that letter was 
reversed by St. Gregory himself and by many 
subsequent Popes. This may have arisen from 
the fact that four Archbishops of Canterbury 
passed away before there was an Archbishop of 
York. St. Paulinus received the pallium in 633, 
shortly after he had consecrated St. Honorius 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Honorius I. 
sent at the same time instructions that when an 
archbishop of Canterbury or York should die, 
the survivor should consecrate the new Arch- 
bishop. But Pope after Pope had enacted that 
York should be subject to Canterbury. In the 
time of Lanfranc, Pope Alexander II. referred 
the matter to a Synod of the whole of England 
to be discussed and determined. In that Synod 
the history of the Church of York by Bede was 
read, and it showed that from the days of St. 
Augustine to those of Bede, Canterbury was 
supreme over York and the whole island, that 
the Archbishop of Canterbury had ordained and 
held councils in York, had summoned the Arch- 
bishop of York to his Synods, and had sat in 
judgment upon him. Further, the decrees of 
Popes St. Gregory the Great, Boniface, Honorius, 
Vitalian, Sergius, Gregory II., Leo, and "of the 
last Leo," that is, St. Leo IX., were read, and by 
them the claim of Canterbury was established. 
The Archbishop of York, having nothing to allege 
but the single letter of St. Gregory, submitted 


and excused himself on the plea that he was not 
aware that the case in favour of Canterbury was 
so strong. This was in the year 1072.^ Since 
that time other Popes confirmed the Primacy to 
other Archbishops of Canterbury, using the for- 
mula, " as it is known that your predecessors 
have had by authority of the Apostolic See from 
the times of Blessed Augustine." Thus Paschal 
II. to St. Anselm ; thus Eugenius III. to Theo- 
bald, as the result, no doubt, of the embassy to 
Rome of St. Thomas ; and thus, later on, Alex- 
ander III. to St. Thomas himself, when Arch- 
bishop,^ as the Register preserved in the Archives 
of Canterbury Cathedral still shows. 

In these negotiations Theobald received power- 
ful assistance from St. Bernard. When, in the 
reign of Innocent, he had wished to visit the 
Holy See, and had been prevented, St. Bernard 
wrote a letter^ to the Pope, in which he spoke 
very highly in his praise. The death of Lucius 
in 1 145 was the occasion of the election of Ber- 
nard, a Cistercian abbot, who became famous as 
Pope Eugenius III., not less by his own deeds 
than through the writings of his saintly namesake. 
In the very first letter which the holy Abbot of 
Clairvaux addressed to the new Pope, he took 
the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury, against 
the prelates of York and Winchester, in what he 
there styles " the ancient quarrel relating to the 
legatine office." It is pleasant to think that it 

3 Wilkins, Concilia, i. p. 326. 
4 Materials, v. p. 324. 
5 Epp. ccxi. cxxxviii. Ed. Horst. Lugd. 1687. 


is extremely probable that St. Thomas may, in 
his journeys to and from Rome, have called at 
Clairvaux to see his powerful advocate St. Ber- 
nard, and be himself the bearer of his letters ta 
the Holy See ; and that thus a personal affection 
may have sprunj^ up between those two Saints, 

The turbulence of Rome still continuing, Pope 
Eugenius visited France; and in 1148 he left 
Paris, where King Louis had given him a royal 
reception, for Rheims, to which city the Bishops 
of the Universal Church had been summoned by 
mid-Lent to celebrate a council. Owing to the 
influence of Henry of Winton, who was perhaps 
angry at the loss of his legateship, and who 
wished to subject the Archbishop to the anger 
of either the King or the Pope, King Stephen 
refused Theobald permission to attend the coun- 
cil. The Archbishop, however, managed to es- 
cape the guards who had been set to prevent 
his leaving England ; and alone of all the bishops 
of that country, except three, whom the King 
sent to excuse the rest, he attended the synod. 
He was accompanied by St. Thomas, who himself 
has recorded that Theobald was received with 
much honour by the Pope, and thanked by him 
in full synod, " because he had come to the 
council rather swimming than sailing." 

The King forced Theobald to leave England 
again after his return from the council; and he 
stayed at St. Omer, where he consecrated 
Gilbert Foliot Bishop of Hereford, with the 
assistance of the Bishops of Amiens and Cam- 
bray. From this place, by the authority of Pope 


Eugenius, England was placed under an interdict;, 
until, by the mediation of some of the bishops 
and nobles, the King made his peace with the 

St. Thomas had at this time another journey 
to Rome, on a matter of the very greatest public 
importance. It was Stephen's wish that his son 
Eustace should be crowned king during his own 
lifetime, in order to secure the succession. This 
was contrary to the understanding that the 
crown was to remain with Stephen for his life, 
and then was to descend to Henry. The pro- 
posed coronation of Eustace was expressly for- 
bidden by the Pope; and the chronicler^ tells us 
that this prohibition, which secured the crown 
without dispute to Henry, had been gained by 
*' the subtle prudence and cleverness of one 
Thomas, a cleric of London, whose father was 
called Gilbert, and mother Matilda." Gregory, 
the Cardinal-Deacon of St. Angelo, foreseeing the 
career of Henry II., had recommended a different 
course, saying that " it was easier to hold a ram 
by the horns than a lion by the tail." When it 
was found that Theobald was inflexible in his 
obedience to the Pope's com.mand, Stephen sent 
Roger de Pont I'Eveque to Rome ; but his em- 
bassy was unsuccessful. The negotiation re- 
specting the coronation of Eustace took place 
in 1152. In the following year Eustace died, 
and the succession was secured to Henry by the 
Convention of Winchester in November, 1153. 

Meanwhile St. Thomas was advancing in eccle- 
6 Gervase, p. 150. 


siastical preferment. He was presented by John, 
the Bishop of Worcester, to the church of St. 
Mary Littory;'' a term which one author has 
understood to mean Shoreham, and another 
St. Mary-le- Strand. As a reward for his service, 
the Archbishop gave him the church of Otford. 
He afterwards had a prebendal stall in St. Paul's 
Cathedral in London, and another at Lincoln. 
His biographer also says that the Archbishop 
gave him leave to go beyond the sea, and that 
he studied the canon law for a year at Bologna, 
where the celebrated Gratian was his instructor, 
and afterwards at Auxerre. Here it was that 
he imbibed that exact knowledge of the Church's 
laws and rights, which enabled him in after years 
to fight her battles as a less skilful lawyer could 
hardly have done. 

When Walter, the Archbishop's brother, was 
made Bishop of Rochester, in 1147, Roger de 
Pont I'Eveque became Archdeacon of Canterbury, 
and on the loth of October, 1154, Theobald con- 
secrated him Archbishop of York ; and so he 
became successor to St. Wilham, as that Saint 
had foretold. The archdeaconry of Canterbury 
thus rendered vacant. Archbishop Theobald con- 
ferred upon St. Thomas, the highest dignity in 
the Church in England after the bishoprics and 
abbacies, and worth one hundred pounds in silver. 
He succeeded Roger in another piece of prefer- 
ment of value and ecclesiastical rank, being made 

7 Matthew of Westminster (Annal. ad ann. 1155) says that 
before he went to Archbishop Theobald, he had received from 
the Abbot of St. Alban's the benefice of Bratfield. 

II43— "54j the court OF CANTERBURY. 25 

the Provost of Beverley. At this time the Saint 
was ordained deacon. 

The close of the year 1154 is remarkable in 
English annals for the death of King Stephen, 
and for the election of the only Englishman who 
has ever sat in the Chair of St. Peter, Nicholas 
Breakspeare, a native of St. Alban's, who took 
the title of Pope Adrian IV. 



1155— 1161. 

Coronation of Henry II.— St. Thomas made Chancellor — his 
office— he expels the Flemings — restores the Tower — his 
magnificence — hospitality — recreations — intimacy with the 
King — his austerities — purity — devotions — his embassy to 
France — war of Toulouse — and in the Marches — personal 
deeds of valour — friendship of King Louis — conversation 
with the Prior of Leicester. 

On the 19th December, 1154, Henry II., in his 
twenty-first year, was crowned King of England 
at Westminster by Archbishop Theobald, the 
Legate of the Holy See. He could not fail to be 
aware of the part which had been taken by St. 
Thomas to secure his succession. Through his 
influence the Holy See had forbidden the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbur}' to crown Eustace ; and he 
doubtless took a leading part in the negotiation 
by which the Primate and the Bishop of Win- 
chester had procured from Stephen an acknow- 
ledgment of the right of Henry to succeed to the 
Crown. We arc therefore not astonished to learn 
that, when St. Thomas was put forward by Arch- 
bishop Theobald as worthy of high place about 
the young King's person, he should at once have 
been promoted to the chancellorship of England. 
This was in 1155, when he was thirty-eight years 


old, and consequent!}' considerably the King's 

The dignity of the office which he now filled 
was such, that the famous Peter of Remy, calls 
him " second to the King in four kingdoms." 
The Chapel Royal was in his care ; he had the 
custody of the Great Seal, and with its reverse 
we are told he was at liberty to seal his own 
documents ; his place in the councils of the 
Sovereign was most important ; and by an abuse 
which then prevailed, he administered the re- 
venues of all vacant bishoprics and abbacies. 

The talents of St. Thomas had now full scope 
to manifest themselves. Within three months 
of the King's coronation, an evil which had its 
rise in the disturbed reign of Stephen was 
vigorously remedied. Many foreign adventurers, 
principally Flemings, of whom the most notorious 
was William de Ipres, created by that King 
Earl of Kent, were driven out of England ; and 
the destruction of many castles which had served 
to harbour wrong-doers in troubled times restored 
a sense of security to the countrj'. The Chan- 
cellor showed similar energy- in the restoration 
of the Tower of London, which had become dila- 
pidated. It is recorded as a marvel, that so 
many hands were employed, that the work was 
completed between Easter and Whitsuntide. 

There can be no doubt that St. Thomas had a 
singular taste for magnificence ; and now, not 
merely were the means for its gratification abun- 
dantly supplied, but it became almost a duty in 
consideration of the position which he filled. 


Probably in all history there is no parallel to the 
place he held as the favourite of his Sovereign. 
Preferment of all kinds was heaped upon him ; 
indeed there was nothing he might not have had 
if he had chosen to ask for it. To the ecclesi- 
astical offices, of which he already held so many, 
there was added the deanery of Hastings ; and 
among those of a more secular character, he 
received the wardenship of the Tower of London, 
with the military service attached to it ; the 
Castlery of Eye, with its honour of seven-score 
soldiers; and the Castle of Berkhampstead. Thus 
the Chancellor had feudal rights over consider- 
able territories and bodies of men ; and it would 
seem that many nobles and knights voluntarily 
submitted themselves to him as "his men," in 
the language of the times, and paid him homage, 
saving their fealty to the King. His retinue was 
further swelled by the presence in his household 
of the sons of many of the nobility, who were 
sent to learn from him and from those whom he 
attracted about him how to fit themselves for the 
Court and the battlefield. A little later King 
Henry intrusted to him the education of his 
eldest son, perhaps as the greatest possible mark 
of confidence. 

Everything about him was of the most costly 
description ; his purveyors were reckless of ex- 
pense in providing for his table, and the very bit 
in his horse's mouth was wrought in silver. His 
hospitality was unbounded. His own table was 
never without guests of the highest rank ; while 
in the lower part of the hall room was found, not 


only for his own large retinue, but also for very- 
many who stood in need of his hospitality when 
frequenting the King's Court. It is a curious trait 
of the manners of those times, that every day 
his dining-hall was strewed with fresh straw or 
hay in the winter, and in the summer time with 
rushes or green boughs ; for the floor had to 
serve as a seat for those guests who thronged 
the hall in greater numbers than the benches 
round the walls could accommodate. When the 
guests had dined, a plentiful meal was set before 
vast numbers of the poor who took their places, 
towards whom his open-handed generosity was 
so remarkable, that worldly people counted it 
almost superstition. The wretched and the op- 
pressed were admitted to him without delay ; 
and in his judicial capacity he was renowned for 
the justice done and the mercy shown to poor 

The King's household could scarcely bear com- 
parison with that of his clerical Chancellor ; his 
very magnificence, however, was made to redound 
to the glory of his royal master. On one occasion 
ambassadors came into England from the King 
of Norway. As soon as the Chancellor heard ot 
their arrival, he sent officials to bring them to 
the Court with all honour, and at his own ex- 

The importance of Henry's continental domi- 
nions rendered it necessary that the Court should 
be held on either side of the Channel. The Chan- 
cellor fitted up three ships in a style worthy ot 
the King's acceptance, and offered them to him 


as a present. When he himself would cross, six 
or more ships sailed in company ; and any one 
who was waiting for a passage was sure to be 
able to obtain it in the Chancellor's train. 

His recreation, after the many and varied duties 
of his office, was of that description in which the 
Norman nobles were accustomed to indulge, and 
for which he had long ago acquired a taste. His 
amusements were thus in his horses, hounds, and 
hawks ; forgetful of his place in the Church's 
hierarchy, and giving him much cause of self- 
reproach in his after-life. He was also fond of 
the game of draughts. 

There is something very characteristic in the 
light-hearted sportiveness of the familiarity that 
existed between him and his youthful King. They 
were more like two schoolfellows than a great 
Sovereign and his first Minister. Henry would 
sometimes enter the Chancellor's dining-hall on 
horseback, perhaps with an arrow in his hand, 
as he was going to or returning from the chase ; 
and we can imagine the stir among the motley 
crowd of retainers as the King would at one time 
drink to his Chancellor's health, and then ride 
away again ; or at another time, leaping over the 
table on the dais, seat himself by his side, and 
thus become an unexpected guest. 

A story is told which puts before us the frolic- 
some terms on which they lived. One cold 
winter's day they were riding together in the 
streets of London, the nobles and their other 
attendants having dropped behind to a consider- 
able distance, to leave them more free, when the 


King spied a poor old man shivering, half-clad, 
in the cold. "' Poor old fellow," said the King, 
" do you see how cold he looks ? would it not be 
a famous alms to give him a thick warm cloak ? " 
" A very proper thought, and a royal one too," 
replied the unsuspecting Chancellor. On coming 
up to the old man they stopped, and Henry 
quietly asked him whether he would not like to 
have a good cloak. The poor man did not know 
them, and did not believe that they could be in 
earnest. " You shall give this great alms," said 
the King, as he turned to the Chancellor ; and 
so saying, laid hold of his beautiful new cloak 
of scarlet and gray, and tried to take it off his 
shoulders, so that quite a scuffle ensued. The 
attendants hastened up, lost in astonishment, and 
found the King and his Chancellor so struggling 
as to be hardly able to keep their saddles. It is 
needless to say who came off victorious ; and the 
poor old man went on his way loudly praising 
God for his good fortune, and clad in the Chan- 
cellor's grand cloak by the King's own hand. 
The courtiers heard the stor}^ and laughed long 
and loud, as in duty bound. Not that they forgot 
to offer the Chancellor their own cloaks in lieu 
of the scarlet and gray which had been given 
away. Enough, however, of these lighter matters; 
it is full time we turned to more serious thoughts 
connected with the time of the chancellorship of 
our Saint. 

We have mentioned the luxury and prodigality 
of his table. It is true that he was a man of 
refined tastes, and perhaps fastidious delicacy ; 


the habits of his whole hfe had made him so : it 
is no less true that in the midst of such profuse- 
ness he was singularly moderate. He had, more- 
over, practices of austerity which would scarcely 
have been looked for under his splendid exterior. 
He often bore the discipline from the hands of 
Ralph, the Prior of Holy Trinity, when he was in 
the neighbourhood of London ; and when he was 
at Canterbury, from the hands of Thomas, a 
priest of St. Martin's. Robert, the venerable 
Canon of Merton, under whom he had been 
brought up, was still his confessor ; and he bore 
testimony to Fitzstephen, one of the Saint's 
most careful biographers, that all through this 
most trying portion of his life, in spite of the 
license of Norman manners and the snares of 
the Court, his life remained perfectly pure. An 
anecdote of one w'ho suspected that it might be 
otherwise not only confirms this opinion of his 
virtue, but gives us also a glimpse of further 
secret austerities. 

Once, when he was in attendance on the King 
at Stafford, the suspicions of his host Vivien the 
cleric were aroused by the attentions which he 
fancied were paid to the Chancellor by a lady of 
the name of Anice de Stafford, who was remark- 
able for her beauty, and whose reputation had 
suffered in consequence of her intimacy with the 
King. Wishing to ascertain the truth, he secretly, 
in the dead of the night, entered his guest's 
chamber with a lantern. The bed he found was 
undisturbed ; but on looking round the room with 
his light, he saw the Saint asleep on the hard 


floor at the foot of the bed, partiall}' undressed. 
His sleep was the heaviness of exhaustion, and 
his inquisitive host was enabled to withdraw un- 

The good Canons Regular of Merton Abbey 
were taken into the King's favour now that a 
child of their house had become a royal favourite. 
Fitzstephen tells us that the King completed the 
Abbey Church and endowed it, and that he would 
sometimes spend the three last da3-s of Holy 
Week with the community. After Tenebrse at 
midnight on Good Friday till three in the after- 
noon, he would visit the neighbouring village 
churches on foot, disguised in a cloak, with but 
one companion to show him the way. We should 
have thought the story more probable if it had 
been told of the Chancellor rather than of the 
King ; but at least it does not seem rash to con- 
jecture that the Chancellor accompanied his 

One of the most important events of his chan- 
cellorship was his famous mission to ask the King 
of France to espouse his daughter Marguerite to 
Prince Henry, the heir-apparent of England since 
his brother William's death. The bridegroom- 
elect was a child of five years of age, and the 
little princess was but three ; and it was thirteen 
years before the marriage was completed. This 
embassy was conducted with a magnificence of 
which we have but few parallels even in the 
records of such ceremonial occasions. His im- 
mediate retinue consisted of two hundred mem- 
bers of his own household, clerics, seneschals 



and servitors, knights and esquires, as well as 
the sons of noblemen who were in his suite with 
their respective attendants, all gaily equipped. 
Huntsmen led hounds in leashes, and falconers 
carried hawks upon their fists. Eight wagons 
conveyed all the requisites for the journey, drawn 
by five high-bred horses ; at the head of each 
horse was a groom on foot, " dressed in a new 
tunic." A spare horse followed each wagon. 
Two were laden with beer in casks bound with 
iron, to be given to the French, " who admire 
that kind of drink," as Fitzstephen tells us, 
adding that " it is wholesome, clear, of the colour 
of wine, and of a better taste." The Chancellor's 
chapel-furniture had its own wagon, his chamber 
had one, his pantry another, his kitchen another; 
others carried provisions, and others again the 
baggage of the party ; amongst them, four-and- 
twenty suits of clothing for presents, as well as 
furs and carpets. Then there were twelve 
sumpter-horses ; eight chests containing the 
Chancellor's gold and silver plate ; and besides 
a very considerable store of coin, "some books" 
found room. The sumpter-horse \\hich led the 
way was laden with the sacred vessels of the 
chapel, and the altar ornaments and books. 
Beneath every wagon was an English mastiff, 
and a monkey rode on each snniptcr-horse's 

The order of march was as follows : some two 
hundred and fifty young Englishmen led the way 
in knots of six or ten or more together, singing 
their national songs as they entered the French 


villages. After an interval came the huntsmen 
with their dogs ; then the wagons, iron-bound 
and covered with hides, rattled over the stones 
of the streets ; at a little distance followed the 
sumpter-horses with their quaint riders. After 
another interval the esquires followed, carrying 
the shields of the knights and leading their 
chargers ; then other esquires ; after them the 
falconers, carrying their birds ; afterwards sene- 
schals, masters and servants of the Chancellor's 
household ; then the knights and clerics, all riding 
two and two ; lastly came the Chancellor himself, 
surrounded by his intimate friends. "' What must 
the King of England be," said the French as 
he went b}', " if his Chancellor travels in such 
state ? " ' 

The King of France, wishing to take upon him- 
self the entertainment of his guest, issued orders 
at Paris that nothing was to be sold to any of 
the ambassador's followers. When the rumour 
of this came to his ears, he sent on people secretly 
to the villages round Paris, to Lagny, Corbeil, 
Pontoise and St. Denys, to purchase for him all 
that he could require. On his arrival, when he 
entered the Temple, where he was to lodge, his 
purveyors met him with the information that 
they had laid in stores sufficient to keep a thou- 

I As St. Thomas passed through the territory of Limoges, he 
was entertained by Hugh of Meimac. Four years after the 
martyrdom Hugh was lying very ill and sent a candle of the 
length of his body to the Saint's shrine. The following night 
he was informed in his sleep that the martyr Thomas was his 
former guest the Chancellor, " to whom he had given whey in a 
rsilver goblet." He was cured (Will. Cant. p. 446). 


sand men for three days. Such open-handed 
expenditure had never been seen in Paris before. 
On one occasion a dish of eels for his table cost a 
hundred shillings; and the "English Chancellor's 
dish ■' passed into a proverb. 

The scholars and masters of the schools of 
Paris waited upon him, doubtless not forgetful 
that he had himself studied among them : and 
even the citizens who had debtors among the 
English students threw themselves upon his gene- 
rosity. His prodigality in making presents was 
unbounded ; he gave away nearly everything ; 
all his gold and silver plate, and all the changes 
of clothing he had brought with him for that 
purpose : " to one he gave a gray cloak, to an- 
other one of furs ; to this one a palfrey, to that 
one a charger ; " no one left him empty-handed. 
What wonder that his embassy should have been 
perfectly successful ? 

It was not only in peaceful negotiations that 
the splendid liberality and the skilful diplomacy 
of our Chancellor were apparent, for in truth 
they were not less conspicuous in the time of 
war. In the siege of Toulouse, there were 
assembled forces from Normand}', Aquitaine. 
Anjou. Brittany, and Scotland, as well as from 
P^ngland itself, the Chancellor's own troops v>"cre 
ever prominent. He was followed by seven 
hundred knights of his own household. Had 
his advice been adopted, the war A\"ould have 
been brought to a very speedy conclusion. The 
King of France had thrown himself into Toulouse 
w ith :i very insufficient garrison. The Chancellor 


proposed an immediate assault ; but Henry, 
though he did not mind waging war against the 
King of France, who was his feudal lord in 
virtue of his continental dominions, yet scrupled 
to attack his person. In the Chancellor's 
opinion, Louis had laid aside all claims to the 
character of feudal superior when he went to 
war with the King of England. However, the 
French army was not long in reaching the scene, 
when the Kings of England and Scotland with- 
drew their forces from before Toulouse,^ after they 
had taken Cahors and several castles. In order 
to retain these, the Chancellor, together with 
Henry of Essex,^ the King's constable, volun- 
teered to remain. Clad in breastplate and 
helmet, he headed his troops, and took three 
highly fortified castles which were reputed im- 
pregnable. He also crossed the Garonne ; and 
when the whole province was confirmed in its 
obedience to the King, he returned to England in 
high favour and honour. 

On a later occasion, when the seat of the war 
was in the Marches, between Gisors, Trie, and 
Courcelles, on the boundaries of the English and 
French territories, besides the seven hundred 
knights of his own household, the Chancellor 
brought into the field twelve hundred knights 

2 Gervase says that Toulouse was besieged from the feast of 
St. John the Baptist (June 24) to that of All Saints (November i) 


3 This statement by Fitzstephen is hardly in keeping with 
that of Gervase, who says that Henry of Essex incurred per- 
petual disgrace for having let the King's standard fall in a battle 
in Wales in 1157. 


and four thousand men, maintaining them at 
his own expense for forty days. Every knight 
received from him three shillings a day, to- 
furnish himself with horses and esquires. The 
Chancellor's knights were the foremost in every 
enterprise in the whole English army. They 
used to sound the sally and the retreat on slender 
trumpets which were peculiar to their troop, and 
the sound of which soon became familiar to both 
armies. Their prominence was due to the Chan- 
cellor's personal courage and prowess. On his 
return from his embassy to France, he had taken 
prisoner Guv de Laval, a noted freebooter, and 
imprisoned him at Neuf-marche. We have seen 
him in his armour leading the troops in the neigh- 
bourhood of Toulouse ; and now we hear of him 
engaged in a hand-to-hand encounter with a 
valiant French knight, Engelramne de Trie, 
whom he unhorsed, making a prize of his charger. 
In spite of his valour w^hen engaged in war 
against him, King Louis of France had almost as 
great a friendship for him as his own Sovereign. 
Once, when he was confined by a serious illness 
at St. Gervase in Rouen, the two Kings came 
together to visit him. One day, during his con- 
valescence, he was sitting playing a game of 
chess, wearing a cloak with sleeves, which had, 
we suppose, a very secular air. Aschetin, the 
Prior of Leicester, on his return from Gascony,. 
where the King's Court was, went to see him. 
It was always characteristic of our Saint, that 
he suffered his friends to speak to him as freely 
as they chose ; even though it should be to find 

II55— iiCjJ the lord HIGH CHANCELLOR. 39. 

fault with him. The Prior of Leicester accord- 
ingly began : *' What do you mean by wearing a 
cloak with such sleeves as those ? You look more 
like a falconer than a cleric. Yet cleric you are^ 
in person one, in office man}-, Archdeacon of 
Canterbury, Dean of Hastings, Provost of Bever- 
ley, Canon of this place and of that, procurator 
too of the archbishopric, and as the current re- 
port goes at Court, Archbishop to be." In the 
course of the conversation the Chancellor said,. 
*' I know three poor priests in England, any one 
of whom I had rather see promoted to the arch- 
bishopric than myself; for I know my lord the 
King so intimately, that I am sure I should have 
to choose between his favour and that of Almighty 
God, if I myself were to be appointed." This 
interview happened after Theobald's death, a 
period which we have not yet reached ; but it 
is here introduced as descriptive of the manner 
of his life during his chancellorship. 


THE chancellor's POLICY. 

II5S— 1161. 

Military career of the Chancellor — Gilbert Foliot refuses the 
administration of London — second subsidies — the Chancellor 
interferes in behalf of the Archdeacon of London, of John 
of Salisbury, the Archdeacon of Rouen and the Bishop of 
Le Mans —difficulty of the position — Battle Abbey — ^judg- 
ments on the Chancellor's conduct. 

It would be neither easy *or justifiable to 
attempt to clear St. Thomas from all blame in 
the scenes we have just witnessed. The argument 
which would excuse him for his warlike occupa- 
tions on the score of the manners of the age, is 
not, it is true, altogether without weight ; let the 
reader estimate its value for himself. Still, though 
this may palliate, it cannot justif}^ so signal an 
infringement of the Church's canons. Beyond 
question it is not edifying to read of the Arch- 
deacon of Canterbury — the first unmitred digni- 
tary in England, a churchman by all the ties of 
his plurality of benefices, and a deacon in orders 
— as "clad in breastplate and helmet," in suc- 
cessful tilt unhorsing the valiant Sir Engclramne, 
"with lance in rest and charger at gallop."' How- 
ever, the most important view of the matter, that 
which his own conscience took, is sufficiently 
satisfactory. In after-days, when everything was 


weighed b\' him in the balance of the sanctuary, 
his lamentation was, De pastore avium fadus sum 
Pastor oviuin. The worldliness of his former life 
was his principal regret, without any special 
remorse in reference to deeds of arms, which in 
our times nvouM be held to induce irregularity, 
and to render an application to the Pope neces- 
sary for absolution. 

The vigour and energy of character, which led 
him to promote the war by appearing in person 
at the head of his troops, induced him to co- 
operate with the King in more than one scheme 
for procuring funds to carry it on, which are 
quite indefensible in their nature. Towards the 
close of St. Thomas's chancellorship, the bishopric 
of London fell vacant b\' the death of Richard 
de Beaumes, a relative of Gilbert Foliot, the 
Bishop of Hereford. The see was soon offered 
by the Chancellor to Gilbert himself, who after- 
wards occupied it, but who now refused it in 
consequence of the disgraceful condition annexed 
to the offer of the translation. The letter is still 
extant in which Gilbert excuses himself to the 
King for his refusal. " The Lord Chancellor 
requests me," he says, " to undertake the charge 
of the bishopric of London, and with part of the 
income to maintain myself and my household as 
its Bishop, and to reserve the rest for my Lord 
the King, to be spent as the Spirit of God shall 
prompt him." It is greatly to Gilbert's credit 
that he should have refused to do what he well 
calls " a grievous injury to his soul." The reve- 
nues of the see, on its falling vacant, were confis- 


cated to the Kin^^'s treasury, by an abuse which 
had been forsworn in more than one coronation 
oath ; and the charge of them was intrusted to 
the Chancellor, who administered the widowed 
see by the clerics of his household. It may be 
that this offer to the Bishop of Hereford was 
only "that he should take charge of the 
bishopric " as administrator during the vacancy 
of the see, which would of course render the 
proposal far less reprehensible, as it would be but 
retaining a part of what the King was accustomed 
wholly to confiscate ; and it is not an improbable 
supposition that St. Thomas, who, as we know, 
used his influence with the King to prevent long 
vacancies, may in this instance have been able to 
gain nothing more liberal to the Church than the 
compromise here offered. Still it must be con- 
fessed that Gilbert's subsequent translation to 
this very see, and his evident indignation at the 
offer, render it probable that the transaction was 
as wrong as it at first sight appears to have been. 
As far, however, as the doubt is a fair one, it is 
but just that St. Thomas's reputation as chan- 
cellor and statesman should have its full benefit. 

Another evil of the same kind, but more 
grievous, because its effects were more widely 
felt, was what Archbishop Theobald called, in a 
letter he wrote to accompany his will when he 
felt his end was approaching, '" the custom of 
second subsidies, which our brother the Arch- 
deacon [Walter, at this time Bishop of Roch- 
ester'] has imposed upon the churches."' This 

I Miiteriah, v. p. 9. 

1155— ii6ij THE chancellor's POLICY. 43 

'"custom" was the imposition of an unjust and 
illegal tax upon the clergy for the prosecution of 
the war, a part of the great " scutage "' raised by 
the King for the expenses of the Toulouse cam- 
paign.- In this there can be little doubt St. 
Thomas co-operated with Henry, for Theobald 
tells him that he cannot listen to him when he 
asks for the exaction of these subsidies without 
breaking a vow that he made when he thought he 
was dying. But the Archbishop attributes these 
subsidies to his own brother, years before, and he 
is far from saying that the Chancellor was 
responsible for them. John of Salisbury, than 
whom probably a better informed authority could 
not be cited, later on, when of course this pro- 
ceeding was brought as a precedent or a reproach 
against St. Thomas, replied to the objection, 
" But perhaps it will be said that the imposition 
of the tax, and the whole, in short, of this dis- 
turbance, is to be attributed to the Archbishop," 
as he was when this was written, " who then had 
complete influence over the King, and made this 
suggestion to him. Now I know that this was 
not the case, for he only allowed the measure to 
pass, he did not sanction it. Inasmuch, however, 
as he was the instrument of injustice, it is a 
suitable punishment to him that he should be 
persecuted now by the very person whom he then 
preferred to his Supreme Benefactor." 

There can be no doubt that Archbishop Theo- 
bald's object in recommending St. Thomas to the 
King, was the hope that he might be able to 
3 See Note C. 


influence his master in those many matters in 
which the strong hand of the State had inter- 
fered from time to time with the hberty of the 
Church. Not that there was any specific under- 
standing on the subject, but that St. Thomas's 
principles were well known to the Archbishop, 
and had been long tested in his many years of 
ecclesiastical service. The position he now held 
was one of great delicacy and difficulty. The 
King's temperament was fiery in the extreme ; 
and opposition, or even a show of independence, 
drove him to great lengths. Beyond a doubt 
St. Thomas always had the liberty of the Church 
at heart, and through him, while he was Chan- 
cellor, she was spared much oppression. 

We have some instances to detail in which the 
Chancellor used his powerful influence with the 
King in behalf of churchmen who had incurred 
his displeasure. The first case is that of Nicholas, 
Archdeacon of London. The cause of the King's 
irritation with him has not come down to us, but 
the arbitrariness with which he was treated is 
very characteristic of King Henry II. His rela- 
tions were ordered into exile, and his house w^as 
seized to be sold for the King's benefit. The 
good Chancellor did not rest until, on the very 
day on which it came to his knowledge, he had 
obtained for the Archdeacon a free pardon and 
his recall. 

John of Salisbury had letters from the Pope 
and the Archbishop of Canterbur}- to appease the 
anger of the King, and desiring the intervention 
also of the Chancellor, he wrote to Ernulf, the 


Saint's secretar\-, saying that he knew that in the 
multitude of his occupations and Court duties 
the Chancellor would need some one to remind 
him of his friend's request, and begging Ernulf to 
do him this service. This Ernulf St. Thomas 
made his chancellor, when he himself became 
Archbishop of Canterbur}-.^ 

Our Saint's good offices were employed in 
behalf of other dignitaries and in a more impor- 
tant cause. On the accession of Pope Alexander, 
and the breaking out of the schism, Hugh, the 
Archbishop of Rouen, at once espoused the cause 
of the rightful Pope, and sent his nephew and 
Archdeacon, Gilo, to his suffragan Bishops to 
induce them to profess the same obedience. The 
King was very angry that it had not been left to 
him to take the initiative in this great question. 
He did not dare to do anything directly against 
the Archbishop, who was much respected ; but 
he ordered the house of Gilo to be pulled down. 
St. Thomas interfered, representing that, though 
the house belonged to Gilo, it was there that he 
himself was accustomed to lodge ; endeavouring 
thus to save the Archdeacon's property without 
irritating Henry by opposition. 

The next day the King heard that the Bishop 
of Le Mans had followed the example of the 
Archbishop of Rouen, and acknov.-ledged Alex- 
ander to be the lawful Pope without so much as 
consulting him. The royal marshals went straight 
to the Bishop's hostelry, where they cut the 
halters and turned loose his horses : and having 

' 3 Materials, v. p. 7. 


carried his ba^gaj^e into the streets, they deprived 
him of his lodging, and drove him in disgrace 
from Court. The King then had briefs prepared, 
giving orders that the Bishop's house at Le Mans 
should be immediately pulled down. As soon as 
he had signed them, he held them up in his hand 
before the large company of nobles and ecclesi- 
astics who were present at his Court, saying, " It 
will not be long before the good people of Le 
Mans hear something about their P3ishop.'' This 
was at Neuf-marche ; and as the King of France 
was there also, the consternation produced by 
this violent conduct was very widespread. The 
Chancellor knew that it was quite useless to 
attempt at once to pacify Henry. The great 
thing was to gain time ; so, on despatching the 
messengers, he privately instructed them to take 
four days for the journey, which was usually 
made in two. The next day the Chancellor sent 
some of the bishops to intercede with the King ; 
but they found him inexorable ; and later in the 
day some others went, and suffered a similar 
repulse. By-and-by the Chancellor w^ent himself, 
and renewed his entreaties on the following day. 
When the King thought that there had been time 
for the execution of his commands, he ga\"e wa}', 
and permitted counter-orders to be issued. These 
were at once despatched by a fleet messenger, 
who was warned, as he valued the Chancellor's 
patronage, not to rest either day or nigiit till he 
reached Le Mans. He arrived just in time ; the 
former messengers had already delivered their 
letters, but the Bishop's house was not yet 


touched. Henry was afterwards glad enough to 
hear of the device which had thus saved him from 
the evil consequences of his own anger. Such 
anecdotes as these show us sufficiently clearly the 
character of the King with whom he had to deal, 
and lead us to wonder that during his chancellor- 
ship no greater injuries were inflicted on the 

From the extreme difficulty of his position we 
are hardly surprised at the statement made by 
his intimate friend, John of Salisbury ,'^ that " he 
would, even with tears, tell the Archbishop and 
his friends that he was wearied of his very life, 
and that after the desire of salvation there was 
nothing he so longed for as to be able to disen- 
tangle himself without disgrace from the snares 
of the Court ; for though the world seemed to 
flatter him in everything, yet he was not un- 
mindful of his condition and duty, and thus he 
was obliged on the one hand to strive for the 
safety and honour of the King, and on the other 
for the needs of the Church and the bishops both 
against the King himself and against his enemies 
also, and by various arts to elude their various 

The Chronicle of Battle Abbey ^ gives an ac- 
count of a matter in which St. Thomas, as Chan- 
cellor, was officially interested, and which has 
often been quoted as an example of his readiness 
at this period of his Hfe, to side with the King 
against those principles of which he was after- 
wards the champion and the martyr. When, how- 

4 Materials, ii. p. 304. 5 See Note D. 


ever, the ex parte character of that chronicle is 
borne in mind, and the fragmentary shape in 
which the only speech of his in the cause of any 
importance has come down to us, there does not 
seem to be anything here to modify the judgment 
that the other acts of his chancellorship induce 
us to form. 

Some modern writers have drawn from these 
facts conclusions most adverse to the character of 
St. Thomas. They say that one of two deduc- 
tions is inevitable : either when he took the 
King's side in these acts of aggression on the 
Church he was sincere ; and then the presump- 
tion is, that his sudden change of policy when 
made Archbishop was but a hypocritical scheme 
for furthering his own ambition : or he was insin- 
cere in the part which he played when Chan- 
cellor, the object of such double-dealing being to 
lead the King to think him hearty in his cause, 
and so to obtain his promotion to the coveted 

This dilemma is as illogical as it is unjust. We 
have already shown that there is another manner 
of accounting for St. Thomas's conduct, which is 
historically far more probable than either of those 
thus objected. There is no reason whatever for 
supposing that his principles were not those of a 
true churchman during the intermediate time, 
spent in his chancellorship, between the days 
when he became the favourite of the Holy See as 
Archbishop Theobald's minister, and the later 
times when he was the Church's champion. If 
any of his biographers speak of a change in him 


at his consecration, it is a change, not of prin- 
ciple, but of manner of hfe : from worldhness to 
asceticism, from the courtier to the ecclesiastic 
and the saint. *" 

And as for ambition prompting such hypocrisy, 
it must needs have been an ambition to fall 
instead of to rise, to become less instead of 
greater in any Nvorldly sense : for what to an 
ambitious man was the primacy, especially if he 
was resolved to resign the chancellorship, when 
compared with the chancellorship itself, as it was 
when he held it ? It is idle to say that he aimed 
at subduing the temporal order to the spiritual, 
and placing himself over both as the head of the 
nobler ; for his subsequent struggle was for the 
canonical independence of the clerg}-, and not for 
their advancement to temporal power. And what 
could the Chancellor, and such a Chancellor, gain 
by desiring a change ? Like Joseph in the house 
of Pharaoh, it was but in the royal throne that he 
was the King's inferior : knights and nobles 
swore fealty to him, reserving only their allegi- 
giance to the Sovereign ; he was the head of all 
the administration of justice ; he had the com- 
mand of the army ; he could dispose of the whole 
kingdom at his pleasure ; he was supreme as the 
King's Prime Minister : would it not have been 
an ambition too short-sighted to be attributed to 
him, to throw away such a rule in the King's 
name in order to risk a contest with a powerful 
Sovereign for ever so brilliant a pre-eminence ? 

The truth undoubtedly is, that St. Thomas 
6 See Note E. 


clearly understood and knew how to manage the 
King's passionate temper. He knew how hope- 
less it was to resist him in his paroxysms of rage, 
and we consequentl}- find him allowing the storm 
to pass over without attempting to combat it. 
There were occasions when he stood by and 
sorrowfull}' saw things done of which he could 
not approve, but with which he was not called on 
by his position to interfere, and which prudence, 
and the fear of destroying his influence and his 
means of good, taught him, whether in mistaken 
judgment or not, to bear with patiently : and if 
there were occasions when he showed more of 
the statesman and courtier than of the dutiful son 
of the Church, these instances were but few in 
number, and not of such a character as to over- 
throw our conclusion that St. Thomas, though as 
yet no saint according to the high and heroic 
estimate of the Church, still showed in his diffi- 
cult position as Chancellor the material of which 
saints are made. 

With such copious information before us re- 
specting his chancellorship, we cannot be sur- 
prised that the biographer^ of those who have 
held that high office should call him "one of the 
most distinguished men of any race that this 
island has ever produced." Manifesting from his 
childhood a singular love for truth ; his heart ever 
full of compassion towards the poor and needy ; 
with the gentlest spirit of condescension towards 
the timid and the humble, yet showing an indom* 
itable courage and will in resisting the oppressor 
7 Lord Campbell's ChanccUuis, i. p. 59. 


though bred in moderate circumstances, hving 
amidst an unrivalled profusion of wealth and 
magnificence as if he had been accustomed to it 
from his cradle ; checking the rapacious tendenc}- 
of a King and a Court against the Church, and 
yet, in spite of his natural vehemence of dispo- 
sition, with such prudence that he has shared the 
blame of what he could not avert ; advancing 
daily in the fear of God and in Christian perfec- 
tion, and yet so unaffectedly and unostentatiously 
that his very virtue is questioned ; leading an 
interior life of a sanctity that in some respects 
falls little short of the heroic : — we have before 
us one who, had he now died, and these details 
had reached us, we had justly regarded as one of 
the brightest and noblest characters in our 
history. How much happier we are, in being 
able to regard this as but the preface, the 
ushering-in of a far brighter and nobler destiny. 
In his after life the blemishes that we have 
observed are washed away. If he has been unjust 
to the Church, he atones for it by vindicating 
justice for her from the most violent and powerful. 
If he has forgotten the indelible character im- 
printed on his soul by Holy Orders, he is about to 
set to all men an example of the life a churchman 
should lead. If he has lived in too great magni- 
ficence for "the servant of a lowly Lord," he 
does penance in the cowl of Citeaux. If he has had 
too great a love for popularity, or too much sense 
of human respect, he will shortly be mocked at 
and deserted, as well by bishop as by noble, in 
the Church's cause. And all the hardv virtues 


we have seen in him hitherto will flourish in their 
native climate of adversity ; he who is just will 
yet be justified, and he who is holy will yet be 
sanctified ; and all will be crowned b}- a death 
which, as that of the saints, will be precious in 
the eyes of the King of the Martyrs and of the 
Divine Author and Guardian of the immunities of 
the Catholic Church. 



1158 — 1161. 

Visit of the King and the Chancellor to Paris— Pope Alexander 
III. — Archbishop Theobald's failing health and anxiety- 
abuses — vacancy of bishoprics — new Bishops of Coventry 
and Exeter — Theobald's desire for the return of the King 
and the Chancellor — the Archbishop's death. 

Ix 1158 King Henry and his Chancellor crossed 
over into France, where they were magnificently 
received by King Louis at Paris.' The Saint's 
politic negotiations gained from the French King 
what was felt to be a very great advantage 
towards the consolidation of Henry's continental 
dominions. The latter Sovereign was permitted, 
as seneschal of the King of France, to enter 
Brittany and exercise martial law on all who 
were disturbing the peace of that country. This 
was the King of England's first entry into 
Brittany; and he took occasion of it to gain 
possession of Nantes. King Louis returned his 
visit ; passing through Le Mans to Mont St. 
^lichel, and thence to Bayeux, Caen, and Rouen, 
where he was received with a magnificence equal 
to his own. It was in the next year, 1159, that 
the war of Toulouse occurred, on which we have 
already dwelt so much. And in 1159, on the 
I Gerv. p. 166. 


death of the En^^hsh Pope, Adrian IV., Alexander 
III., was elected in his stead on the 7th of Sep- 
tember. Under this Pope the rest of the life of 
St. Thomas was spent, and by him he was 

In 1 160 Theobald began to feel that his long 
reign in the chair of St. Augustine was drawing 
to a close. We must dwell for a short time on 
the cares that beset him, and rendered his last 
days anxious ; for they will serve excellently to 
put us in possession of the feeling that existed 
respecting the relations of the Crown to the 
Church when the see of Canterbury fell vacant. 

One of the abuses against which the aged 
Prelate struggled, and, through his foresight in 
placing St. Thomas with the King, not without 
success, was the long vacancy of bishoprics ; 
which, though involving churches in widowhood, 
and leaving the people without a pastor, was an 
easy and tempting manner of recruiting the royal 
treasury. His spirit, preparing to give an account 
of his stewardship, would indeed have been 
grieved if he could have foreseen what St. Thomas 
a few years afterwards thus described to Pope 
Alexander : '' To say nothing of the way in which 
the King treats the Churches of Canterbury and 
Tours, of which you have heard, and of which I 
wish you knew still more, now for some time 
past he holds in his own hands seven vacant 
l)ishoprics in our province and that of Rouen, nor 
will he suffer pastors to be there ordained. The 
clergy of the kingdom are given up to his officials, 
to be trodden down and treated as a prey." It 


became a current saying, during a seventeen 
years' vacancy, that Lincoln would never have 
another bishop. 

Robert Warehvast, Bishop of Exeter, died in 
1159 ; and Theobald was very anxious that his 
see should be filled. He was a wealthy man, 
who had been presented in the first year of King 
Henry's reign : and John of Salisbury leads us 
to understand that his appointment had been 
uncanonical, if not simoniacal. This renders 
intelligible the following passage in a letter from 
Archbishop Theobald to the King ; which is 
interesting as showing, as several others of his 
writings also do, the misgivings with which the 
Primate sank into his grave. " The children of 
this world suggest to you to diminish the autho- 
rity of the Church, in order to increase your 
royal dignity. They are certainly your Majesty's 
enemies, and provoke the indignation of God, 
whoever they may be. It is He Who has 
extended your boundaries ; it is He Who has 
advanced your glory. It is wicked in you to 
diminish the glory of 3'our Lord and Benefactor ; 
it merits chastisement, and the severest chastise- 
ment beyond doubt it will receive ; nay, by God's 
grace there shall be no chastisement, for by His 
help it shall not be done. The Spouse of the 
Church addresses you by my mouth. Peter, the 
Shepherd of all, the Prince of the Apostles, 
addresses you ; and all the saints earnestly 
beseech you, that if you would have them for 
the patrons and guardians of your realm and 
reign, you would permit a pastor to be ordained 


according to the Lord for the Church of Exeter, 
and would strive to rescue it from shipwreck. 
It was the first in the kingdom to which you 
looked. See, I beg, my lord, what has come of 
it. You know whom He excluded from the 
Church, Who drove out those who sold doves ; 
and God forbid that any one should enter in 
whom Christ shut out. I pledge myself a surety 
for St. Peter, that the honour which you show to 
him he will repay a hundredfold, even in this 
world." This, which sounds almost as a voice 
from the tomb, apparently produced but little 
effect ; for the King would have appointed Robert 
Fitzharding, an illiterate and useless person, if 
the Canons of Exeter had not refused to elect 

The Archbishop's wish, which he prosecuted 
with great fervour, was that the see might be 
given to Bartholomew, then Archdeacon of that 
Church ; for whom, he said, he was willing to 
pledge himself to the King. It is edifying to be 
able to add that Bartholomew knew nothing 
of the application thus made in his behalf. 
Theobald pressed his request on Henry with the 
energy of a man who feels that he has no time to 
lose. He himself wrote to the Chancellor ; and 
another still more urgent letter to St. Thomas 
was from John of Salisbury, who says that the 
Archbishop was beginning to be dispirited as to 
his personal influence with Henry. He was then 
ill in his bed. The letter adds that they had 
heard that the King had conferred the income 
of three vacant bishoprics on St. Thomas, but 


that such a report had not caused them to doubt 
of his mediation ; for they had none of them 
forgotten the advantages which Lincoln, York, 
and many other Churches had received at his 
hands. Theobald had the consolation of com- 
municating, by means of his faithful John of 
Salisbury, this appointment to Bartholomew ; 
and he sent for him, that he, with Richard, 
Bishop-elect of Coventry, might be consecrated, 
if not by him, at least in his presence. His 
brother Walter,^ Bishop of Rochester, conse- 
crated the Bishop of Coventry in the chapel into 
which Theobald was carried ; but Bartholomew's 
consecration was postponed until he had done 
homage to the King. He crossed the sea, and 
returned with all haste, but Theobald had died 
before his arrival. The Bishop of Rochester 
consecrated him at Christ Church, Canterbury, 
at the request of the Prior and community. 

In Bartholomew's election, the solicitude of 
Theobald's last moments was successful. Coven- 
try had had an unusually short vacancy ; but, in 
spite of all his efforts, he left London, Worcester, 
and Bangor without bishops. 

As his end drew near, he felt the absence of the 
King and St. Thomas very deeply. His letters 
to both of them, pleading to be allowed to see 
their faces once more before he died, are very 
touching. Again and again he writes to the 
King : " We petition your Majesty that it may 
please you, as we believe it to be the pleasure of 
God, that you would return to your own peculiar 
- Gerv. p. i6S. 


people. Let their loyalty move you, and the 
affection of your children, from whom the sternest 
parent could hardly bear to be so lon^ separated ; 
let the love of your wife move you, the beauty of 
the countr} -, and that union of delights we cannot 
enumerate; and, not to forget my own case, let 
my desolation move 3'ou, for my age and sickness 
, will not let me wait long for your desired coming. 
In this hope I wait ; and with many a sigh I say 
to myself, ' Will not my Christ give me to see 
him whom at my desire He gave me to anoint?'"' 
And then he begs that the King will at least send 
him his Archdeacon. " He is the only one we 
have, and the first of our Council. He ought to 
have come unsummoned ; and unless your need 
of him had excused him, he had been guilty of 
disobedience before God and man. But since 
we have ever preferred your will to our own, and 
ha^•e determined to further it in all that is lawful, 
we forgive him his fault ; wishing him to remain 
in your service as long as you need him, and 
ordering him to give his whole zeal and attention 
to your wants : but permit him to return as soon 
as ever you can spare him." And this he unites 
to his prayer for the Church of Exeter, beseeching 
with equal energ}- dc rcmittcndo canccllario, d pro- 
movcndo ncgotio Exonicnsis Ecclesicc. 

In the same tone he writes to St. Thomas, 
anxious beyond measure to see him, but warning 
him not to incur the King's displeasure ; for he 
doubted his own influence, and he reminded him 
that favour for the sake of the dead, amongst 
whom he expected soon to be numbered, was not 


to be relied upon. John of Salisbury at the same 
time writes to say that he had never known the 
Archbishop equally anxious about anything, so 
that they had even thought of forcing St. Thomas 
to return by threat of censures. But they had 
been induced to be patient by the report, the 
importance of which they would be the last to 
undervalue, of the perfect unanimity between the 
King and the Chancellor. " It is publicly said 
that 3-ou have one heart and one soul, and that 
3-our friendly familiarity is so strong, that you like 
and dislike the same things. The whole Court 
hangs upon your counsel." 

The wish so fervently expressed was not grati- 
fied. What the dying Prelate longed to press 
upon the King and the Chancellor, if he had been 
permitted to see them, is sufficiently clear from 
the letters which accompanied his will. Besides 
the question of subsidies, he urged that none of 
his ecclesiastical arrangements should be inter- 
fered with, excommunicating any one who might 
venture to do so. Under a similar censure he 
forbade any interference with his Church of 
Canterbury, especially any alienation of its lands ; 
he requested that the King would permit his pro- 
perty to be divided amongst the poor, towards 
whom he had during life always shown great 
charity ; and he wrote most earnestly to Henry 
respecting his own successor. " I beseech you 
to hear me, as you would have God hear you at 
your last breath. I send you and your children a 
blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ ; and do you, 
I pray, send my desolate ones your Majesty's 


consolation. I commend to you the holy Church 
of Canterbury, from which, by my ministry, you 
received the reins of government, that you may 
defend it from the attacks of wicked men : and 
to me, who, though unworthy, have yet, by 
God's help, ruled it as best I knew how, give as 
successor such a pastor as may not be unworthy 
of so great a see, who may delight in religion, and 
the merits of whose virtue may find favour with 
God. Your faithful servant must give you counsel; 
and, before the Lord and His saints, this is my 
counsel : Seek not in this matter what is your 
own, but the Lord's ; for I answer to you for 
Him, that if you will have a faithful care for His 
cause, He will greatly advance yours." 

Theobald had been Archbishop two-and-twenty 
years when he died, on April 18, 1161. He was 
buried in the mother-church of England, soon to 
be rendered so famous by the death and relics of 
his immediate successor. Nineteen years after 
his death his tomb was opened, and his body was 
found to be entire and uncorrupt. His soul we 
trust is with God. His see was vacant for one 
year, a month, and fourteen days ; and when 
next there was an Archbishop, it was St. Thomas 
of Canterbury. 



1161 — 1 162. 

The Chancellor returns to England — the King resolves he shall 
be Archbishop — intimation to the monks — election at Wes- 
minster — Foliot's conduct — Archbishop-elect discharged of 
all liabilities — he goes to Canterbury — his ordination and 
consecration — feast of the Blessed Trinity — the pallium. 

The year of Theobald's death passed over quietly, 
the revenues of the see being as usual intrusted 
to the Chancellor's care. The free-spoken Prior 
of Leicester has already shown us that the current 
belief was that the Chancellor was to be Theo- 
bald's successor. 

In the spring of 1162, King Henry determined 
to send St. Thomas over into England to provide 
against the incursions of the Welsh, and on other 
public business of importance. Just as the Chan- 
cellor was about to start upon his journey, he 
went to salute the King at the Castle of Falaise 
in Normandy. Henry took him on one side, and 
said, " You do not yet know altogether the cause 
of your journey. It is rny will that you should be 
Archbishop of Canterbury." On this the Chan- 
cellor, looking down at his dress, which was gay, 
said with a smile, " What a religious man, what a 
saint you wish to place in that holy bishopric and 
over so famous a monasterv ! I am certain that 


if, by God's disposal, it were so to liappen, the 
love and favour you now bear tON\ards me would 
speedily turn into the bitterest hatred. I know 
that you would require many thinf:(S, as even now 
you do require them, in church matters, which I 
could never bear quietly ; and so the envious 
would take occasion to provoke an endless strife 
between us.'' The King was utterly unmoved by 
this, and in the Chancellor's presence instructed 
the nobles who were to accompany him in his 
mission, that they were to intimate this his desire 
to the monks of Canterbury and to the clergy of 
the kingdom. He then turned to one of them in 
particular, Richard de Luci, whose position about 
the King's person was very confidential, and said 
to him, " Richard, if I lay dead on my bier, would 
you not strive that my eldest son Henry should be 
crowned King? " He replied, " My lord, I would 
with all my might." " I wish you to take as 
much pains," rejoined Henry, " for the promotion 
of the Chancellor to the see of Canterbury." A 
few years later the expressions that he had here 
used often recurred to the mind of St. Thomas as 
almost prophetic, and during his exile his com- 
panions frequently heard him allude to them or 
recount them. They accord precisely with what 
he had said to the Prior of Leicester. 

In the month of May, 1162,' the King sent three 
Bishops, with Richard de Luci and Walter his 
brother the Abbot of Battle, to Canterbury, to 
summon the Prior and monks to hold an election. 
When they were assembled in the chapter-house, 
I Gerv. p. 169. 

ii6i— ii62] THE NEW ARCHBISHOP. 63 

Richard addressed the community, enlarging upon 
the King's fihal devotion to the Church of Canter- 
bury, which induced him without further delay to 
send them free leave to elect ; and in conclusion 
pointing out to them the necessity there was that 
the object of their choice should be acceptable to 
the King. 

The summons was to London, that they might 
there meet the Bishops of the province at West- 
minster ;- and thither accordingly Wibert the 
Prior and the senior monks of the chapter betook 
themselves. The electors speedily came to the 
conclusion that their wisest course would be to 
consult the King's representatives as to the person 
who would be most acceptable to him. They did 
not immediately elect the Chancellor when he was 
proposed to them by Richard de Luci. It was 
not any repugnance to St. Thomas personally that 
led them to hesitate ; but it was their feeling, as 
religious, that the successor of the Apostle of 
England should be a child of St. Benedict, as 
Theobald and the majority of those who had filled 
that throne had been. His intimacy with the 
King appears to have been regarded from two 
different points of view. Some thought that it 
was calculated to promote harmony between the 
Church and State ; while others considered it 
dangerous, as destroying the independence which 
alone could hope to resist any undue encroach- 
ments of the civil power. Though doubtless the 

2 Gervase, who was admitted as a monk at Christ Church not 
long after this election, says London, and Herbert Westminster ; 
Roger de Pontigny places the election at Canterbury. 


expression of the King's will was contrary to that 
perfect freedom of election which the Church de- 
sires, and to which she has a right ; yet, from all 
that has come down to us, it would seem that 
there was no such direct influence or intimida- 
tion of the electors used as would nullify the elec- 
tion, as there had been in Stephen's reign in the 
case of St. William of York. Quite enough there 
was to raise a suspicion of its canonical charac- 
ter, and this St. Thomas himself represented in 
the strongest terms a few years afterwards to Pope 
Alexander. However, as far as the forms go, all 
seems valid ; and at the close of the election 
Wibert announced to the bishops and abbots, 
who, together with the priors of conventual 
houses, and the earls and other nobles, with the 
King's officials, were assembled together at West- 
minster by royal mandate, that they had elected 
as Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas, the King's 

There was but one dissentient voice raised at 
this announcement. Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of 
1 / Hereford, was the only one who was dissatisfied. 

The report was very widespread that he was 
himself ambitious of the vacant primacy. The 
belief in the justice of this charge receives much 
strength from the fact that when, after St. 
Thomas's martyrdom, the primacy once more fell 
vacant, he had again to defend himself from the 
same accusation in a long letter to the King. 
However, finding himself alone and unsupported, 
he changed his tactics, and became the loudest in 
praise of the election. For this reason some well- 

ii6i— ii62] THE NEW ARCHBISHOP. 65 

informed writers deny that he ever disturbed the 
unanimity with which the name of St. Thomas 
was received. It must be borne in mind that 
Gilbert was not himself an elector ; for it was the 
privilege of the community of Christ Church to 
elect the Archbishop, who was ex officio their 
Abbot also. Gilbert was present as one of the 
suffragan Bishops of the province. 

St. Thomas was in consequence of the King's 
absence presented to his pupil, Prince Henr}-, 
then a boy in his eighth year,^ who, even before 
his coronation, is sometimes called the young 
King; and he, as well as Richard de Luci and 
the other officials whom the King had com- 
missioned, gave full assent to the election. 
■Henry of Winchester, the brother of the late 
King Stephen, then said : " The Lord Chan- 
cellor, our elect, has now been long in the 
palace of the King your father, and has had the 
highest place in the kingdom, having had the 
whole realm at his disposal, so that nothing has 
been done save by his will : wherefore we beg 
that he may be given over to the Church of God 
and to us, free, and absolved from every obliga- 
tion of the Court, from every complaint and 
calumny, and from all claims ; so that from this 
hour henceforward, unshackled and free, he may 
attend to the things of God. For we know that 
the King your father has delegated to you his 
powers in this matter, and that he will ratify 
whatever you ordain." This petition was fully 

3 The Lansdowne MS. says that the Prince was ten years old, 
but he was born in March, 1155 (Gerv. p. 161). 



granted, and St. Thomas was given over to the 
Church free from all secular obligations hitherto 
contracted. This release by the King was so 
well known and understood that at Northampton 
St. Thomas appealed to it as within the know- 
ledge of all present ; and, later on, John of 
Salisbury wrote, " Who is there who did not 
know that the King gave his Chancellor over, 
free from all administration and obligation, to 
the government of the Church of Canterbury ? "■♦ 
The objections that St. Thomas had previously 
made to his appointment had been overruled by 
the arguments and authority of Henry of Pisa, 
Cardinal of SS. Nereus and Achilleus, who was 
the Pope's Legate in France. As soon, there- 
fore, as the proceedings of the election were con- 
cluded in London, he set out for Canterbury, to 
be consecrated in the metropolitan church. He 
was accompanied by a great number of bishops 
and nobles ; his position as the head of the 
English hierarchy, as well as Prime Minister of 
the Crown, naturally attracting multitudes, and 
rendering them anxious to do him all honour. 
During the journey he called Herbert of Bosham 
aside, who now appears for the first time per- 
sonally in the history, though evidently already on 
familiar terms with the Archbishop-elect ; and 
told him privately that in a dream that night a 
venerable person had stood beside him and given 
him ten talents. Herbert tells us that he attached 
no meaning to it at the time, but that afterwards 
he bethought him of the good servant in the Gospel 
4 Materials, vi. p. 97. 

ii6i— ii62] THE NEW ARCHBISHOP. 67 

who doubled the talents intrusted to him. The 
tenour of his meditations by day is betrayed to us 
by the dreams of the night. How to trade with 
his ten talents his meditations taught him, and he 
who was faithful over the few is now the ruler 
over many. 

In the course of the same journey he bade 
Herbert always come and tell him in confidence 
what others might say of him, and if he thought 
him wrong in any thing, at once to point it out to 
him ; " for," he added, " four eyes see more 
clearly than two." And Herbert thinks that he 
gave the same commission to others also. The 
Saint was, indeed, losing no time. The powerful 
will, which had made him without a rival in 
worldly matters, was now brought to bear with 
all its force on the work of his own sanctifi- 
cation. These glimpses of the passage of a 
noble soul to spiritual heroism are inexpressibly 

On Saturday in Whitsun week^ he was or- 
dained priest in Canterbury Cathedral by his old 
friend Walter, Bishop of Rochester, "the Vicar 
of the Church of Canterbury for ordinations and 
dedications." For the honourable office of con- 
secrating the Primate in the solemn function 
which had been fixed for the following day, there 
were several claimants. Roger, the Archbishop 
of York, anxious we must suppose for his dignity, 
rather than desirous of showing any affection for 
the Archbishop-elect, though he was not himself 
present, sent messengers to put in his claim to 
5 Gerv. p. 170. 



perform the consecration. The bishops acknow- 
ledged that it was an ancient right of the see of 
York ; but it was overruled in this instance, be- 
cause Roger had made no profession of subjection 
or due obedience to the Church of Canterbury. A 
Welsh Bishop also put in a claim, on the ground 
that he was the oldest Bishop, having been the 
first consecrated of the living hierarchy. Walter 
of Rochester claimed the right in virtue of his 
being the chaplain of the Archbishop. Some 
spoke for the Bishop of Winchester, who was 
cantor or precentor in Canterbury Cathedral. 
The bishopric of London was vacant ; but the 
chapter wrote to petition that the Bishop of 
Winchester, who was administering sacraments 
in London during the vacancy of the see, might 
be selected. This request was acceded to out 
of respect for the venerable Henry of Blois, 
Walter giving way under a protest that it 
should be accounted no precedent against the 
rights of the Church of Rochester. 

Thus, on the octave of Pentecost, Trinity 
Sunday, the 3rd of June, 1162, St. Thomas was 
consecrated a Bishop in the metropolitan church 
by Henry of Winchester, in the presence of 
nearly all his suffragans, as well as a vast mul- 
titude of abbots, religious, clerics, and nobles, 
Prince Henry himself being there. At the eastern 
end of the Cathedral was a chapel dedicated to 
the Blessed Trinity. Immediately after his con- 
secration and enthronement in the ancient Patri- 
archal Chair behind the high altar, St. Thomas 
said Mass in the chapel of the Blessed Trinity, 

ii6i— ii62] THE NEW ARCHBISHOP. 69 

behind the Throne — his " first Mass," Gervase 
calls it, as indeed it was if we pass over the 
concelebrations in his priestly ordination and 
episcopal consecration. This chapel was his 
favourite resort when he was in Canterbury. 
Here he said Mass both before his exile and after 
his return. Here he would come to assist pri- 
vately at the office of the monks in choir, and 
he would frequently retire to the same chapel 
for prayer. On a screen on the right of the high 
altar, between it and the chapel of the Blessed 
Trinity, lay St. Odo ; on the left, St. Wilfrid ; by 
the south wall of the chapel was the resting-place 
of Lanfranc, and by the north wall that of Theo- 
bald. Beneath the chapel was the crypt, con- 
taining on the south side an altar dedicated to 
St. Augustine, the Apostle of England, and on 
the north side the altar of St. John the Baptist. 
Between these two altars in the crypt St. Thomas 
was buried the day after his martyrdom, and 
there his body lay until the site of the chapel he 
had loved best in life was prepared to receive his 
shrine. The altar-stone was prized on which the 
Saint had said his first Mass, and of it an altar 
was made that was dedicated to St. John the 

Practically on the day of his consecration St. 
Thomas said two Masses. This he was free to 
do, as the decree of Alexander 11.,^ familiar to 
him as included in the Dccretuin of his old master 
Gratian, did not forbid the celebration of two 
Masses if offered through devotion. This was 
6 Can. Sufficit, De consecratione, dist. i. 


not forbidden before the decree of Innocent III.,'' 
subsequent to the time of St. Thomas. As to 
the festival of the Blessed Trinity, Alexander II." 
says that while in some churches it was kept on 
the octave of Pentecost, and in others on the 
Sunday before Advent, the Roman Church kept 
no such special feast, being content with its daily 
devotions to that great myster}^ That the fes- 
tival was already observed at Canterbury in the 
Cathedral seems probable, as the monastery had 
this for a second title, letters being frequentl}' 
addressed, even by the Popes, to the Convent of 
the Blessed Trinity^ as well as to the Church of 
Christ at Canterbury. The title of a chapel 
would hardly be celebrated as a feast of the 
Church, as Fitzstephen'° describes this, but the 
festival may well have been kept as a Titular 
Feast of the Cathedral. Gervase" is therefore 
speaking of the extension of the festival to the 
whole province of Canterbury, when he says that 
"Thomas, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when 
consecrated, instituted the principal feast of the 
Holy Trinity to be kept every year for ever on 
the day of the octave of Pentecost, on which da}- 
he himself celebrated his first Mass.'"- The feast 

7 Cap. Consuluisti, De cclchrationc missaritm. 

8 Cap. (3;(o«/rt;K, £)£/(';//5, wrongly attributed to Alexander III. 
Bened. XIV., De Fesiis, cap. xii. 

9 For instance, Materials, vi. p. 41 S. 

10 Octava Pentecostes, Ecclesia; Cantuariensis festa die Sancta; 
Trinitatis (Fitzstephen, p. 36). 

11 P. 171. 

12 Stephen Birchington, a monk of Canterbury, who lived 
two centuries after Gervase, and has copied this phrase from 
him, is sometimes quoted as the authority for the statement. 


was extended to the Universal Church b}^ Pope 
John XXII, in the early part of the fourteenth 

We return now to St. Thomas and the prelate 
who consecrated him. 

From his high position both as brother of King 
Stephen and Legate for several years of the Holy 
See, the Bishop of Winton had gained a very 
wide experience of public affairs. Few were 
better fitted to judge of the course the new Arch- 
bishop would be obliged to pursue. His speech 
to the Prince is a very distinct intimation of 
the view that he had taken ; but immediately 
after the consecration he expressed himself far 
more plainly.^3 " Dearest brother," he said, " I 
give you now the choice of two things ; beyond 
a doubt you must lose the favour of the earthly 
or of the heavenly King." Raising his hands 
and looking up to heaven, as he knelt for the 
blessing of his consecrator, our Saint replied, 
with an earnestness that brought tears to the 
eyes of both, '*' By God's help and strength I now 
make my choice, and never for the love and favour 
of an earthly king will I forego the grace of the 
Kingdom of Heaven." When the news, years 
afterwards, reached Henry of Blois, that the head 
he had that day anointed had in that same church 
received the death-wound of martyrdom, he ex- 
claimed, "Thank God that it was my privilege to 
consecrate him ! " 

St. Thomas was still but Archbishop-elect. He 

13 Girald. Cambren. ap. Wharton, Avgl. Sacra, London 1691, 
ii. p. 420. 


had received in his consecration the plenitude of 
the sacerdotal power ; he had been raised to that 
order to which by Divine right priests are subject ; 
but jurisdiction flows from the See of Peter only, 
and that jurisdiction which the canon law gives 
to Archbishops-elect St. Thomas as yet had, and 
no more. The symbol of the completeness of 
metropolitan authority, which is a delegation of 
power over brother-bishops from him who has 
power over all, is the pallium, which is blessed by 
the Pope on the eve of SS. Peter and Paul, and . 
which, from the shrine where it is then placed, is 
said to be sent " from the body of blessed Peter." 
Immediately after St. Thomas had been con- 
secrated, he sent his messengers to Montpellier, 
where Pope Alexander III. then was. They were 
six in number, and amongst them was the Trea- 
surer of York,^^ the Abbot of Evesham, one of the 
monks of Canterbury, and John of Salisbury. 
They were the bearers of letters from the 
Bishops, from the Prior and community, and 
from the King, relating what had been done, 
and praying for the pallium. It was readily 
granted by the Pope,'^ 2Lnd solemnly received by 
St. Thomas on St. Laurence's day, the loth of 
August, 1162, after the usual oath, at the high altar 
of his Cathedral. He went barefoot to meet those 
who were bringing this symbol of his dependence 
on the Apostolic See ; a fitting act of devotion for 
the beginning of his reign as Archbishop of Can- 

14 This was John of Canterbury, our Saint's old companion 
in the court of Theobald, whose name we shall frequently meet 
later on as the Bishop of Poitiers, his fast friend. 
15 Diceto, p. 534 ; Gerv. p. 172. 



1 162. 

Sanctity of the new Archbishop — change of circumstances — ■ 
manner of life — hospitality to the poor— study of Holy 
Scripture — private prayer — Mass— his dress— afJfiiliation to 
religious orders — the stole — Confirmation. 

The Sacrament of Holy Orders wrought a glorious 
work in the soul of St. Thomas. Hitherto we 
have called him Saint by anticipation ; now it is 
his deserved, well-earned title. It does not seem 
too much to say, with the knowledge of the detail 
of his life as a prelate which has been preserved 
for our edification, that even if it had not pleased 
God to mark His love for him by conferring upon 
him the crown of martyrdom, he would have been 
held forth to us by the Church as a confessor, as 
so many of his predecessors in his see have been ; 
and we should have still venerated, though with 
one honour wanting, St. Thomas of Canterbury. 
But, thank God, that honour too was not with- 
held, and in the brightness of the glory of the 
martyr the dignity of the confessor has been 
absorbed ; so that while for the one we have 
the Church's unerring judgment, for the estimate 
of the other we are left to our convictions. 

The change of external circumstances affecting 


our Saint was very great. When the multitude 
of prelates and nobles who had attended the 
consecration had left Canterbury, he remained in 
the church to which he was now wedded. 
Hitherto he had lived at court and in camp 
the life of a Norman noble of the highest rank, 
surrounded by all the appliances of the greatest 
luxury and magnificence, as remarkable for 
W'orldly grandeur as for his unblemished life. 
Now he had suddenly become not only the first 
of the hierarchy of a great kingdom, but the resi- 
dent superior of a large religious house. The in- 
ternal government of the monastery of Christ 
Church was carried on by the Cathedral Prior ; 
but the Archbishop was the head or abbot of 
the community. 

The outlines of his life were derived from the 
Rule of St. Benedict, by which the monks were 
governed ; but the manner in which those out- 
lines were filled up was his own, and very charac- 
teristic of him. The first duty that was quite 
new to him was attendance at choir. Matins 
broke in upon every night's rest ; for the recita- 
tion of this part of the Divine Office always occu- 
pied the dead of the night. When this was over, 
thirteen poor men were daily taken into a private 
room, where the Saint washed and kissed their 
feet, and' then waited on them, serving up to 
them with his own hands a plentiful meal. They 
were dismissed about daybreak, each with four 
pieces of money. His object in selecting so early 
an hour for this act of humility and charity was 
that it might be strictly private, as well as that he 


might not be hindered from performing it by other 
occupations. The custom was maintained even 
in his absence, for then one of the convent guest- 
masters took his place. We shall form some idea 
of the assistance the poor received from one of 
the greater monasteries, on learning that when 
these thirteen poor men left, on whom the Arch- 
bishop had attended in person, twelve others 
were treated by a guestmaster with equal hospi- 
tality, differing only from the first in this, that 
they did not receive the alms in money ; and that 
later on in the morning, at nine o'clock, a plenti- 
ful meal was set before one hundred poor persons, 
who were then called " prebendaries " or pen- 

At daybreak St. Thomas retired to his room ; 
and after a short time given to sleep, he aroused 
himself promptly, and while others were resting 
themselves after the nightly interruption of their 
repose by the Divine Office, he was intent on the 
study of the Sacred Scriptures. That this study 
might be more fruitful as well as safe, he was 
attended at this hour by Herbert of Bosham, who 
tells us that his holy master had thus singled him 
out for this intimate intercourse with him. The 
Saint's devotion for the Holy Scriptures was so 
great, that often when out riding, he would draw 
up, and call Herbert to confer with him on some 
point of sacred learning. At such times he would 
say, " Oh that I could lay aside the cares of the 
world, and in peace and quietness attend to sacred 
studies ! how carefully I would atone for the time 
I have lost ! " In his full loose sleeves he would 


carry a few pages, that so he might ever have 
by him the means of his favourite occupation, 
when he had a httle occasional or accidental 
leisure. He surrounded himself by persons 
skilled in all kinds of ecclesiastical learning, 
from whose conversation he derived much 
profit. The result of this was seen in the quick- 
ness wherewith he prepared himself for that im- 
portant portion of the duty of a bishop, preach- 
ing both to clergy and people. 

After the striking exhibition of diffidence and 
humility shown in this reliance on the assistance 
of another, the instructor to whom the Saint 
showed such docility left him ; and until nine 
o'clock no one was permitted to disturb his 
union with God under any pretext whatever. Of 
this precious time God and the saints and 
angels were the sole witnesses. At nine he came 
out of his room, either to say Mass, or to assist 
at it. " For he did not say Mass every day; and 
this was, as he himself said, not through negli- 
gence, but reverence." 

While St. Thomas received the sacred vest- 
ments for Mass from the ministers, his changing 
countenance, and the tears in his eyes, betrayed 
how deeply his heart was affected at the solemn 
act of offering sacrifice, like a good pontiff, for his 
own sins and those of his people. During the 
early part of the Mass, which is called the Mass 
of Catechumens, to preserve himself from distrac- 
tion while the ministers were singing, he would 
read some devout book. His favourite on these 
occasions was a little prayer-book composed, with 


much unction and devotion, by his blessed prede- 
cessor Anselm of holy memory. He generally 
said one collect in the Mass, sometimes three, but 
very seldom more. He was careful that his Mass 
should be short ; and Herbert, in whose words 
these interesting details are given, assigns, as the 
reason for his saying it rapidly, one with which he 
must have been familiar, inasmuch as it is given 
in the Rubric of the Sarum Missal when exhort- 
ing the priest not to dwell too long on his 
Memento, " for fear of distractions and sugges- 
tions by evil angels;" adding that thus he verified 
in the august sacrifice of the Gospel the words 
spoken of its shadow and type, "Ye shall eat it 
in haste ; for it is the Phase, that is, the passover 
of the Lord." Those who were often present at 
his Mass bear witness to the tears and sighs the 
presence of his Lord drew from him, and to the 
very great devotion with which he celebrated. 
"When he v/as alone," says another of his inti- 
mate friends, " he shed tears in wonderful abund- 
ance ; and when he stood at the altar, he seemed 
in very presence in the flesh to see the Passion of 
the Lord. He handled the Divine Sacraments 
with great reverence, so that his very handling of 
them strengthened the faith and fervour of those 
who witnessed it." 

All his monks knew that Theobald's successor 
was sure to prove an able Archbishop ; but many 
of them must have feared lest he should be a 
worldly one. The heartiness of his adoption of a 
strictly devout and religious life must have 
speedily removed all their misgivings ; and yet. 


singularly enough, there Nvas one point which for 
a while offended them. But one thing recalled 
the magnificence of the Chancellor, and that was 
his dress. It may have been that he retained his 
gay attire in order to conceal the interior change 
that was taking place within him, and to secure 
himself from the observation of the Court. It 
was at this very Pentecost of his consecration 
that he first put on his hair-shirt ; it was not, 
therefore, from a worldly feeling that he did not 
conform himself in dress to his new manner of 
life. The monks, however, might well be scan- 
dalized at the incongruity of his attending choir in 
his gay secular dress. With the freedom which 
he ever allowed and encouraged in his friends, in 
a manner so characteristic of his greatness of 
mind, one of the religious, who was more intimate 
with him than the others, reproved him for it, and 
undertook to relate to him a dream that one of 
the community had had regarding it. " Go tell 
the Chancellor,'" a grave and venerable personage 
had seemed to say to him, by the title he made 
use of marking his indignation, ''to change his 
dress without delay ; and if he refuse to do so, I 
will oppose him all the days of his life." To the 
reproof St. Thomas made no reply, but he burst 
into tears. 

By the close of the year in which he was conse- 
crated he had laid aside his valuable and coloured 
dress, with its foreign and variegated furs, and 
put on a black cappa, which was closed all round 
and reached his feet, and which was made of a 
material of little value, and was adorned with 


lambswool instead of fur. This dress he was in 
the habit of frequently changing, in order that he 
might give away those that he had worn to clothe 
the poor. The black cappa he continued to wear 
all his life, with a surplice of fine linen over it. 
He is described as wearing it at Northampton, 
and he was in it when he was martyred. Some 
writers tell us that between the two habits, the 
one of penance, known as yet to none but his 
spiritual director, and the other, even more 
humbly ecclesiastical than his dignity required, 
he wore the dress of a monk ; and they thus 
describe him as being at once an example to the 
cleric, the monk, and the hermit ; but this v/ould 
seem to be an anticipation of the Cistercian cowl 
which he received at Pontigny, blessed by the 
Pope, which also he Vv'ore at his martyrdom. 

The black cappa with lambswool, and the linen 
surplice, was not the monastic habit of his 
monks of Christ Church. It was that of the 
Black Canons Regular, to which Order Merton 
Abbey belonged. When a boy there at school, he 
had doubtless worn the same habit as the religious 
among whom he lived. It was therefore natural 
that, being surrounded by a chapter of religious, 
and sitting on a throne which had been rarely 
occupied save by religious, when he sought to 
show even by his habit that he had devoted him- 
self to the service of God, not being himself a 
Benedictine, he should resume that habit which 
he had worn when young, and with which were 
associated his recollections of strictness and holi- 
ness of life. 


This variety of habit worn by the Saint has 
produced the very singular result that St. 
Thomas, whom the secular clergy venerate as a 
secular, is claimed by two religious orders as a 
regular. In the Martyrology approved by the 
Holy See for the Canons Regular, St. Thomas is 
mentioned as a Saint of the Order, to be kept by 
all its various branches ; and it is said that, in 
order that he might serve God more freely and 
securely, he professed the Institute of the Canons 
Regular. The word " professed " can hardly 
mean more than that he was in some sense asso- 
ciated or affiliated to the Order. The Cistercians, 
in their Martyrology, give only the historical fact 
that our Saint, when " driven into exile from his 
see and from England for the defence of justice 
and of ecclesiastical immunity, took refuge at 
Pontigny, a monastery of the Cistercian Order, 
and there put on a cowl which was blessed 
by Pope Alexander III., in which cowl he was 
buried, when, after his return to England, he was 
slain by the sword by a band of wicked men in 
his own basilica, and so went to Christ and was 
adorned with many great miracles." 

There is one detail more in the dress of the 
new Archbishop worthy of our notice, the more 
so as it is one of those episcopal practices of the 
middle ages, which survive now in the usages of 
the Sovereign Pontiff alone. 

The Saint was accustomed to wear his stole 
openly and constantly; and his object was that 
he might ever be ready to administer the Sacra- 
ment of Confirmation. He was remarkable for 


his devotion to this sacrament, and for his readi- 
ness at all times to administer it. Bishops in 
those days would give Confirmation even on 
horseback. St. Thomas always alighted for that 
purpose,^ but would often administer the sacra- 
ment in the open air. At several places, where 
he was known to have done so, crosses were after- 
wards set up by the roadside, and became famous 
for miracles. The custom of constantly wearing 
his stole he discontinued during his exile ; but he 
resumed it on his return to his province, shortly 
before his death. 

C Benedict, p. 1G4. 



1 1 62. 

Public life — the dining-hall — the Saint" s hospitality — his alms- 
giving — life amongst the religious — ordinations — confirma- 
tion of episcopal elections — his conduct as judge — his seal — 
his hair-shirt. 

We have not yet followed our Saint through the 
whole of a day's occupations in his new home. 
We now pass from the more private acts of 
devotion to the public details of his life ; we 
accompany him from the choir and the altar to 
the refectory and the episcopal chancery. 

He ma}' be said almost to have dined in public, 
so many sat down to table with him. He occu- 
pied the middle place at the dais at the end of 
the hall : on his right were placed his personal 
companions, whose character is well shown by 
the title by which they have come down to us, 
as his crudlii : on his left sat the monks and 
religious. His soldiers and other la}- retainers 
dined at a separate table, lest they might be 
annoyed by having to listen to the book' which 

I To read in refectorj' was one of the duties of the cross- 
bearer. Prince Henry is said to have waited at table, " when 
he chose." To do so was but to exercise one of the duties of 
chivalry, and he would share such dutie^ with the sons of noble- 


was read aloud during the Archbishop's dinner. 
He would not permit musical instruments to be 
played during the meal ; a custom then so gene- 
ral, that in almost every dining-hall a gallery was 
built for the purpose : but he would occasionally 
interrupt the reading to discuss some question of 
interest, often a point from Holy Scripture, with 
his friends. 

Though valuable plate of gold and silver was 
spread upon his table, as it had been under 
former archbishops, his heart was no longer set 
on magnificence. His temperance was worthy of 
note, and his moderation was the more striking 
from the necessity that the habits of many years 
imposed upon him that his food should not be 
coarser than that to which he had been accus- 
tomed. One day, a person who was dining with 
him remarked with a smile on the delicacy of his 
food ; the natural warmth of disposition and 
energy of the Saint speak in his characteristic 
answer : " Certes, brother, if I am not mistaken, 
you take your bean with greater eagerness than 
I the pheasant before me."' Herbert quietly 
bears witness that the rebuke was deserved. 
" This person lived with us awhile," he says ; 
" and, though he did not care for delicacies, for 
he was not used to them, he was truly a glutton 
of grosser food." Of such things, however, he 

men who were in the Archbishop's retinue. Herbert tells us, 
that while it was usual for the barons and earls to devote their 
eldest sons to the King's service, their second sons were intrusted 
to the care of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Herb, Anccd. 
Bed. pp. iio, 112). 


eat very sparingly ; and while he would taste the 
wine that was set before him, and the dishes 
that were brought to table-, his principal food 
was bread, and his usual drink was water in 
which fennel had been boiled. 

As he sat at table, his large clear eye would 
wander round the room ; and if he saw that any 
one who had a claim to a more honourable posi- 
tion had by accident been seated in a low place, 
he would atone for it by sending him a share of 
his own cup and his own dish. He was also 
watchful that the domestics each performed their 
duty ; and if any one were neglectful, he was 
certain to receive a reprimand in due time and 
place. The Saint was sure to notice the absence 
of any one of his own companions. If a stranger 
came to visit him, he did not place him amongst 
them, lest some word might be dropped in their 
conversation which it was not advisable should 
be overheard ; unless it should happen to be 
some person remarkable rather for his piety and 
learning than for dignit}', whom St. Thomas would 
invite by name. Others were honourably enter- 
tained at another table, where the Saint would 
send them frequent marks of his attention. Her- 
bert adds, that it was the custom of his prede- 
cessors, which he followed, not to have any one 
about him as a cleric, much less as a counsellor, 
who was bound by special obligations to the 
King, in consequence of the difficulty such a 
person would feel if an}- misunderstanding should 
arise between the King and the Archbishop. 

He never sat down without a number of poor 


having places assigned to them in the refectory ; 
and his table was the more liberally furnished 
that a plentiful meal might remain for distribu- 
tion. He had always been renowned for the 
exercise of hospitality and for a profuse liberality, 
and the poor were not the losers by the reduction 
of splendour in his mode of life. A beggar never 
left his door empty-handed. Theobald, his pious 
master, had doubled the alms which his prede- 
cessors had been in the habit of distributing ; 
St. Thomas doubled those of Theobald, and he 
devoted to these pious uses the tenth of all that 
he received from any source. He would also 
send to hospitals and poor colleges sometimes 
four or five marks, sometimes gifts of provisions. 
He caused his attendants to visit the sick and 
aged ; of these many became his daily pensioners; 
and, as winter came on, he gave away an abun- 
dance of warm clothing. 

These details of his bountiful almsgiving have 
led us away once more from the order of his 
day ; we have brought it, however, nearly to a 
close. After dinner he retired with his friends 
into his private room, when a portion of time 
was devoted to conferences on ecclesiastical 
subjects. Occasionally, when he found that he 
required it, he would sleep for a little while in 
the afternoon.^ 

One of his favourite resorts was the cloister, 
where he might often be seen like one of the 
monks, perusing some book. The infirmary also 

I The siesta of an Eastern Archbishop at Canterbury is 
' mentioned by William of Canterbury, p. 437. 


was very attractive to him ; and he would deh^ht 
in attending to the wants of the sick rehgious. He 
always had a great love for the religious orders, 
and this he would show by the respect and 
veneration monks ever received from him. In 
the Ember week in September after his conse- 
cration he held an ordination ; and in no one of 
his duties as Archbishop was he more careful or 
anxious than in his choice of subjects for Holy 
Orders. His anxiety on another point soon ap- 
peared ; for he would speak to his companions 
on his determination never to confirm the election 
of an unfit person to a bishopric ; and he would 
regret, frequently and earnestly, the appearance 
of unfitness in his own case, saying, when his 
friends v/ould console him by instances of others 
who under such circumstances had made excel- 
lent bishops, that they were miracles of the 
grace of God. On this point, however, his deter- 
mination was not tried ; the only two persons 
consecrated by him were well worthy of the 
episcopal dignity. 

With a judicial office he was of course familiar ; 
and that which he had held, in those early days 
of equit}', was not unfit for an ecclesiastic. Now, 
as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was also a 
judge ; and this, the highest Church court of the 
realm, was scarcely inferior in importance to the 
secular judgment-seat of the Chancellor. His 
qualities fitted him in a high degree for the office 
of a judge : his resistance to the injustice and 
insolence of the powerful was almost proverbial ; 
and his impartiality was such, that Fitzstephen, 


who was an official in his chancer}', tells us that 
" the letters and prayers of the Kin^ himself were 
of no use to a man unless he had right on his 
side." With w^itnesses he was a patient and 
careful listener, and his questions were shrewd 
and penetrating. His judgments were promptK' 
given ; but of all his good qualities his integrit}' 
receives the highest praise, as if it were not in 
those times too common a virtue. If he was 
aware that a man had a cause pending in his 
court, he invariably refused to receive from him 
any present, even of the value of a farthing, 
except the offer were of articles of food, which 
could not well be refused. A similar course was 
enjoined, both publicly and privately, upon all 
his officials, except only the advocates who prac- 
tised there. There is a story told of a certain 
abbot, who went from one to another who were 
in a position to help him with the offer of a 
present, which, to his astonishment, every one 
refused. Indeed the Archbishop had bound 
Ernulf, his chancellor, by oath to take no fee, 
with or without compact, for any portion of his 
work, down to the very use of the penknife. - 
Happily the good Abbot could rely on the justice 
of his cause ; for he went away, we learn, success- 
ful in his suit, with his money in his pocket, and 
the words of Ecclesiasticus on his lips : " Blessed 
is the man who has not gone after gold." There 
was no fee for the sealbearer, nor for signatures, 

2 Usque ad canipuhmi, i.e. canif, knife (A.S. cnif.), an instrument 
for nipping (Skeat ; Peter Cantor, Vcrbuni Abbreviatum, c. 28 ; 
Materials, iv. p. 265). 



nor for the notary ; and there was nothing 
exacted for seahng-wax, paper, or seal. " For," 
says Herbert, " whose image and superscription 
does the seal bear, that it should be bought and 
sold?" The seaP that drew forth this remark, 
fragile though the substance was on which it was 
impressed, has come down to us. 

It represents the tall, beardless figure of the 
Archbishop, fully vested, wearing a mitre of 

3 It is here reproduced from Mr. Gough Nichols's translation 
of Erasmus's Pilgrimages, 1849. The seal was also published in 
the Journal of the British Archaological Association, part i. vol. x. 
April, 1854. 


unusual form, and having in his left hand a 
short pastoral staif, the crook turned inwards, 
and corresponding precisely with the description 
of that pastoral staff, of pear-wood, with the 
head of black horn, which was preserved for 
centuries among the relics at Canterbury. The 
inscription simply announced that it was " the 
seal of Thomas, by the grace of God Archbishop 
of Canterbury." 

A few words must yet be added to this per- 
sonal sketch on the subject of his mortifications. 
His self-denial with regard to food and sleep 
has already been mentioned, and a hair-shirt 
has been alluded to ; but nothing has yet been 
said of the unusual severity of this instrument 
of penance. It was not merely a hair-shirt, but 
drawers of the same rough material, that he 
wore ; and this mortification was increased in a 
very singular degree, if there is no exaggeration 
in the accounts which tell us that at the time 
of his martyrdom it was found to be infested 
with vermin. It is not that it was never changed, 
for two others were amongst his effects when 
they were ransacked by his murderers ; and we 
are further told that its existence was during 
his lifetime known only to Robert of Merton, his 
confessor, and to " Brun son vaslet," whose 
business it was to wash and prepare it for 




The Archbishop resigns the chancellorship and the archdeaconry 
— reclaims alienated Church lands — William de Ros — the 
Earl of Clare — Tunbridge, Saltwood, and Hythe — the King 
returns to England — meeting of King and Archbishop — 
Christmas in London — translation of Gilbert Foliot to 
London — Foliot's antecedents — -purpose of his translation. 

A REPORT of the great change in St. Thomas's 
manner of Hfe, misrepresented and distorted by 
the malice of the courtiers, reached the ears of 
King Henry in Normandy, and doubtless caused 
him some uneasiness. This feeling was increased 
by a message' which he soon received from St. 
Thomas, resigning into his hands the Great Seal 
and the office of Chancellor. By this the King 
was much mortified, probably because he regard- 
ed it as a proof that the Saint was laying aside 
whatever might be an obstacle to his freedom 
of action, in case an}- dissension should arise be- 
tween the Crown and the Church. As a mark 
of his displeasure, he urged upon him the imme- 
diate resignation of the archdeaconry of Canter- 
bury, and his delay in complying with the 
injunction the King never entirely forgave. It 
is to be presumed that the fear lest such a man 
I Diceto, p. 534. 


as Geoffrey Ridel should be a thorn in his side, 
was the cause of his retaininj:,'- that high dignity 
for awhile. 

At the same time there arose a still graver 
cause of dissension. The Archbishop had re- 
ceived from the King, according to the explicit 
statement of Fitzstephen,- leave to reclaim all 
estates of the Church of Canterbury which had 
been alienated by his predecessors or were occu- 
pied by laymen. He entered upon this course, 
in itself no attractive one, moved by a sense of 
duty ; for he had sworn in his consecration oath 
to defend the property of his Church, which was, 
as he well knew, inalienable. In those cases 
where the injustice was notorious, he took pos- 
session, without any judicial process or sentence, 
of the estates which had been usurped. One of 
them was a fief with the feudal burden of seven 
soldiers, which had been taken possession of by 
William de Ros on the death of Archbishop 
Theobald. The clearness of the right here exer- 
cised is shown by the fact that his judgment 
was never reversed. 

Another instance ^ was that of the Earl of 
Clare, who was related to most of the noble 
families of England. The Archbishop claimed 
his homage in virtue of Tunbridge and its honour, 
a league around which was called the ban-league 
or lowy. The Earl offered to pay the homage, 
if he might leave unmentioned the plea on which 

2 Fitzstephen, p. 43. 

3 Diceto, p. 536, gives the date as 22nd July, 11C3, which would 
be after the Council of Tours. 


it was due ; which offer the Archbishop refused. 
A claim was also made, not only to Saltwood 
and Hythe,4 but to the custody of Rochester 
Castle, the deed of grant of William the Con- 
queror being produced. Some of the parties 
who were offended by these proceedings crossed 
over to the King to complain of the Archbishop, 
but by no means violently ; for they felt that 
Henry was still the friend of St. Thomas, and 
they regarded him as still too powerful at Court 
to be offended or injured with impunity. 

The meeting between King Henry and the 
Archbishop proved that the courtiers had been 
wise in their caution. A few days before Christ- 
mas in the year 1162, that of the consecration, 
the King returned from his continental domin- 
ions, and landed at Southampton. He was met 
by his son Prince Henry and by St. Thomas. 
The manner in which the Archbishop was re- 
ceived spoke of all the former affection which 
had subsisted between them. The Prince and 
St. Thomas entered together into the room where 
the King was ; on which Henry embraced the 
Saint with his ancient cordiality, seeming almost 
to neglect his son in his joy at seeing his old 
friend. It must be remembered that if the new 
and edifying life the Saint had adopted caused 
the King to entertain misgivings, as no doubt 
it did, it also caused a very general feeling of 
satisfaction at his elevation, which reflected 
credit on the King's choice ; and thus his vanity 
was flattered. 

4 Gerv. p. 174. 


After a short interview on the first day, the 
Archbishop left the King, who was wearied with 
his voyage ; but on the day following they began 
the journey to London, riding together the whole 
way engrossed in private conversation. St. 
Thomas spent Christmas in London, as he had 
not time to return to his own see for the festival ; 
and he celebrated Mass in St. Paul's Cathedral, 
there being at that time no Bishop of London. 

One of the earliest ecclesiastical acts performed 
after the King's return was the translation of 
Gilbert Foliot to the vacant see. To the postu- 
lation (as it is technically termed) of the Chapter 
of London, of which Ralph de Diceto, the chroni- 
cler, was then Archdeacon, the Pope assented, 
dating his letter from Paris, the igth of March ;5 
and as the Apostolic mandate was warmly se- \J 
conded by a letter from the King, and most 
affectionately and urgently by another from 
St. Thomas, Gilbert was enthroned in St. Paul's 
Cathedral on the 28th of April, 1163, a few days 
only before he left England in the train of his 
Metropolitan for the Council the Pope had sum- 
moned to assemble at Tours on the igth of May. 

Gilbert, however, plays far too important a 
part in our history for us to miss the opportunity, 
given us by his promotion to the highest ecclesi- 
astical position he w^as destined to attain, of 
saying a few words drawn from his own writings 
respecting his previous life. It will then be seen 
that it was quite natural for St. Thomas to con- 
gratulate himself, as he does, on the nearness of 
5 Diceto, p. 534. 


the new Bishop of London to Canterbury, and 
that he was quite justified in hoping^ to find in 
liim a powerful assistant in the Church's cause. 

Gilbert F'oliot is commonly called a Cistercian 
monk, whereas he was truly of the Order of 
Clu^i^ny. His first religious promotion was to be 
Prior of the famous house in which he had made 
his profession. He was then made Prior of Abbe- 
ville. He attended the Abbot of Clugny to the 
great Second Council of Lateran in 1139, under 
Pope Innocent II., where Archbishop Theobald 
was also present. In the same year he was made 
Abbot of the great Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter 
at Gloucester. He was now in a position of con- 
siderable influence, and his correspondence shows 
that he was quite conscious of it. Amongst his 
letters while Abbot of Gloucester, we have one 
to Pope Celestine II. in behalf of Nigel, Bishop 
of Ely; another to Pope Lucius II. for Jocelin, 
Bishop-elect of Sarum ; a third to Pope Eugenius 
III. in behalf of Roger de Pont I'Eveque, though 
a cleric in the court of Archbishop Theobald ; 
to whom also, in a fourth, he writes for the 
Bishop of Lincoln ; a fifth requests that the Pope 
would command the Bishop of Salisbur}' to bless 
the Abbot of Cernely ; in a sixth, he commends 
the Abbey of Malmesbury to Pope Eugenius ; in 
another, he boasts to the Bishop of Llandaff of 
the effect of his intercession; and again, he writes 
to the Pope for the Bishop-elect of Arras. On 
another occasion, he speaks of the many and 
important affairs wherewith he had been intrusted 
by the Pope. In similar terms he writes to the 


Empress Matilda and to Archbishop Theobald. 
In all this, too, his principles were most strictly 
those of a churchman. The instances in which 
he asks for the exercise of the spiritual sword are 
almost too numerous to quote : he maintains in- 
violate all Papal privileges ; he warmly praises 
the Holy See ; and sentences like the following, 
which is taken from a letter to the Empress 
Matilda, are of frequent occurrence in his corres- 
pondence : "Let not your serenity be disturbed, 
if we obey the Apostolic mandate, to depart from 
which we judge to be as a sacrilege. In all 
things, therefore, in which we can and ought, 
we are prepared to obe}- your commands. But 
if in anything Church authority is offended, we 
have a full excuse, when that is exacted from us 
which we ought not to do.'' His abilities were 
of a high order, as his correspondence shows ; 
and his talents and leading position were aided 
by a great reputation for personal austerity and 
sanctity of life. 

It was but natural that such a man should be 
advanced to the episcopacy. He was conse- 
crated^ Bishop of Hereford, on the 5th of Sep- 
tember, 1 148, at St. Omer, by Theobald, during 
the time when the Archbishop was exiled by King 
Stephen for having assisted at the Council of 
Rheims in spite of the King's command to the 
contrary. We have his letter of thanks to Pope 
Eugenius for his consecration. He had previously 
been made by the Pope vicar or administrator of 
the church of Hereford ; and he had given an 

6 Gerv. p. 135. 

96 ST. THOMAS or CANTERBURY. [chap. 9 

early example of vigour, by placing it under an 
interdict on account of the contumacy of the Earl 
of Hereford. His correspondence in this, his 
new dignity, is of the same character with that 
which has gone before. He thus writes to the 
Pope : " We know, dearest Father in Christ, we 
know that not to obey the Apostolic commands 
is to apostatize, and that it is truly like a sacri- 
lege to oppose your will. Far be it from one of 
the faithful, far be it from a Catholic, far be it 
especially from a son, who is bound in many 
ways, and subject to you by the benefits which 
he has received from your munificence." He 
writes with great boldness in favour of the free- 
dom and privileges of the Church, and in one 
instance he threatens to excommunicate an official 
for summoning the Dean of Hereford before his 
tribunal. In two cases we find him exercising 
powers as Papal delegate ; and, later, he was 
made vicar of the diocese of Worcester. One 
of his last acts as Bishop of Hereford was to 
petition the Holy See to authorize the translation 
of the body of St. Edward the Confessor in 
Westminster Abbey. 

Fitzstephen says that the King's object in 
asking the Pope to place Gilbert at London was, 
that he might have his advice against the Arch- 
bishop. This does not, however, appear to be a 
probable motive, and must have been suggested 
to the historian by the part subsequently taken 
by Gilbert. If the King foresaw that he would 
be on his side in the coming struggle, he must 
have been singularly clear-sighted. At least the 


Bishop's antecedents were not such as to lead 
him to expect it ; and, in his letter to him, he 
mentions only the excellent advice which he had 
heretofore frequently received from him, " for the 
dignity of his own person, the state of his king- 
dom and pubhc business." It is also mentioned 
in Pope Alexander's letter that the King wished 
to make him his confessor. St. Thomas urges 
upon him his new dignity with warmth and 
affection. " To this we earnestly beg our bro- 
ther's attention, that the contemplation of our 
love may be a more affectionate invitation than 
the necessity of obedience ; that thus he who is 
united to us by sincere love may by neighbour- 
hood be conveniently at hand for our wants and 
those of the Church of God." And in another 
letter, apparently after some remonstrance on 
Gilbert's part, St. Thomas writes to him still 
more flatteringly, telling him that he had been 
chosen because of his experience and conduct as 
Bishop of Hereford, and that he looked for the 
greatest assistance for the Church of Canterbury 
from him. He also expresses his regret that he 
cannot remain in London to receive him with due 

His reputation for austerity of life rose with 
him from dignity to dignity ; so that the Pope 
himself, in the September following this trans- 
lation, in a letter written from Bourges, after 
urging upon him to give the King good counsel, 
begs of him to mitigate his austerities for the 
sake of his health, which was so valuable to the 
Church. ** We have heard and learnt from many 



trustworthy persons that you weaken and afflict 
your flesh above w^hat is fitting and expedient, 
neither eating meat nor drinking wine for your 
health's sake. It is to be feared that if you take 
from your frame w^hat is necessary for it, you will 
succumb under so great weakness ; and from 
your loss, from which God defend us, the Church 
of God would suffer a great injury, while from 
your life and conversation she has gained no 
slight advantage." The new Bishop of London 
gave an early proof that St. Thomas had not been 
mistaken in his estimate of his zeal, by writing 
a very warm letter to Pope Alexander, praying 
him to preserve the ancient primacy of Canter- 
bury over York, and especially not to suffer the 
archiepiscopal cross of the latter see to be borne 
in the province of Canterbury. 




The Saint and the King at Canterbury and Windsor — St. Thomas 
resigns the guardianship of the Prince — he attends the Coun- 
cil of Tours — canonization of St. Anselm — consecration of 
Reading Abbey — translation of St. Edward the Confessor — ■ 
consecration of the Bishops of Worcester and Hereford. 

Canterbury was now the home of St. Thomas, 
and since he had resigned the Great Seal, he was 
no longer obliged to be in attendance on the 
Court. Whatever uneasy feeling may have re- 
mained on the mind of the King in consequence 
of that resignation, to all external appearance 
their friendship was still unbroken, and another 
token of it was given by a visit which Henry paid 
to St. Thomas at Canterbury previous to his 
departure from England for the Council of Tours. 
The King assisted at the Palm Sunday proces- 
sion ; and the historian of Canterbury records' 
that there occurred a storm so violent, that the 
canopies which were erected, as usual, through 
the streets to shelter the procession were blown 
down. The Saint probably returned to London 
with the King ; for he attested the letter,^ dated 

1 Gerv. p. 173. 

2 Materials, v. p. 24. The copyist of the MS. in the Bodleian, 
misled, no doubt, by the initial, has substituted the name of 
Theobald for that of Thomas. Henry was not at Windsor 
between the death of Richard de Beaumes and that of Theobald. 

100 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, io 

from Windsor, in which Henry urged Gilbert 
FoHot to consent to the translation which the 
Pope had authorized. This must have been early 
in April, and Easter Sunday in that year — 1163 — 
was the 24th of March. 

As we are told that the Archbishop took this 
opportunity to restore the young Prince, now a 
little more than eight years old, to the King his 
father, it would seem as if up to this time he 
had continued to be responsible for him as his 
tutor and guardian. After spending some days 
in familiar intercourse with them both, St. Thomas 
went to Romney on the coast of Kent, which was 
one of his own villages, to wait for a fair wind. 
He was detained for a few days, and then crossed 
over with a splendid retinue to Gravelines on the 
Flemish coast. Herbert of Bosham was one of 
his attendants, and records with what enthusiasm 
he was everywhere received. On landing he was 
met by Philip Earl of Flanders ; and on the next 
day the nobles of the country came to do him 
honour and to vie with one another in offering 
their services. With similar honours he passed 
through Normandy and the continental dominions 
of the King of England, being everywhere re- 
ceived as if he were the King himself. He arrived 
at Tours three days before the opening of the 
council. As he approached, the whole city went 
out to meet him, and not the citizens only, but 
also the dignified ecclesiastics who were assem- 
bled from all parts of Christendom. The very 
Cardinals themselves broke through the Roman 
etiquette and went out some distance, leaving but 


two of their number with the Holy Father. St. 
Thomas went straight to the palace of the Pope ; 
but the crowd of those who followed him was so 
great, that his Holiness was obliged to leave the 
room in which he was for one of the great halls 
for the reception. He was received with the 
greatest kindness by the Holy Father; and the 
interview is the more interesting, as Pope Alex- 
ander in. had never before seen him, whom it 
was his privilege afterwards to canonize. This 
audience was but short, as the Saint was suffering 
from the fatigue of his journey. He went with 
his retinue to the King's castle, which was near 
the Pope's palace, and had been prepared for his 

On the following day the Archbishop v»as 
visited by great numbers, both of ecclesiastics 
of all ranks and countries and also of nobles, but 
more particularly by all who held office under the 
King of England, knowing the favour with which 
he was regarded by that monarch. The Council 
was attended by 17 Cardinals, 124 Bishops, and 
414 Abbots. The English hierarchy was repre- 
sented more numerously than usual, but three 3 
being unable to attend, the Bishops of Winchester, 
Bath, and Lincoln. The Archbishop of Canter- 
bury wath his suffragans sat on the Pope's right 
hand ; and on his left was Roger de Pont I'Eveque, 
Archbishop of York, with the Bishop of Durham 
his only suffragan, Carlisle being then vacant. 
The synod was held in the church of St. Maurice, 
on the 19th of May, being the octave of Pentecost, 
3 Diceto, p. 535. 

102 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, io 

and consequently the anniversary of St, Thomas's 
consecration. The sermon was preached by a 
prelate who played an important part in the 
future events of this history, Arnulph Bishop of 
Lisieux. The most important act of the council 
was the solemn excommunication of Octavian the 
Antipope and his adherents. Several of the 
privileges of the church of Canterbury were re- 
newed at the prayer of St. Thomas, 

It is highly significant of the tone of mind of 
our Saint at this time, and a proof of his quick- 
sighted anticipations of the struggle that was in 
store for him, that he should have felt so great 
a devotion for his holy predecessor St. Anselm. 
We have already heard of his attachment to the 
writings of this saintly doctor ; but his interest in 
his memory was no doubt strengthened by the 
circumstances of his life and conflict with William 
Rufus, with which St. Thomas had the keenest 
sympathy. To promote his canoni2ation, there- 
fore, he determined to petition the Pope in the 
Council of Tours ; and with this view he caused 
John of Salisbury to write the Life of St. Anselm, 
which is still extant among his works. After his 
return to England, he received from the Pope 
apostolic letters,"* dated Tours, June gth, in which 

4 Materials, v. p. 35. Pope Alexander VI., on the 4th October, 
1494, following the example of Pope Innocent (probably VIII.), 
instituted another commission to report to the Holy See at the 
request of King Henry VII. (Spelman, Cotic. Orb. Brit. ii. p. 721). 
By whom St. Anselm was ultimately canonized is not known. 
Clement XL, by a decree S.R.C., Sth February, 1720, "at the 
prayer of King James III.," raised the feast of St. Anselm from 
a semi-double to double rite for the Universal Church, assigning 
to him the Mass of a Doctor of the Church. 


he says that he had received so many petitions 
for canonizations (among which was the cause of 
St. Bernard), that he had deemed it prudent to 
delay. He now, however, conferred upon St. 
Thomas special powers to convoke the Bishops 
and Abbots of the province, and having examined 
with them the hfe and miracles of St. Anselm, to 
proceed by their advice in the canonization as 
especially delegated by the Holy See. The sub- 
sequent troubles prevented any such proceeding. 

Not very long after his return from the Council 
of Tours, the Archbishop consecrated with much 
pomp and solemnity the well-known abbey of 
Reading.5 This noble foundation, which was due 

5 A letter recorded by William of Canterbury {Materials, i. 
p. 415) deserves insertion here for the sake of the glimpse it 
gives of old Marlow bridge. "Brother Anselm of Reading to 
his beloved lord in Christ, Jeremy, monk of the Holy Trinity at 
Canterbury, greeting. I am bound by the number of miracles 
that have taken place to let you know how illustrious the martyr 
Thomas has become amongst us. Take a story in brief of which 
I am an eye-witness. By order of my lord William Abbot of 
Reading I went to Wycombe, having his orders to return to 
Reading the same day. Having done the business for which I 
had been sent, I was on my way home, and was crossing the 
Thames at Marlow by the bridge. I was on foot and my horse 
was before me, when about half way across the bridge the 
horse's hind quarters fell through a hole in the bridge, up to his 
flanks, his hind legs hanging beneath the bridge. The bystanders 
ran up and tried with poles to lift the horse, but the few who 
could get at him could not lift him, and the frailness and shape 
of the bridge would not let more come to my aid. Those who 
had in vain tried to help me went away, leaving me wath the 
advice that I should enlarge the hole and let the horse fall into 
the river. But the day was waning, I had my lord's orders, 
night was at hand, and the way long. So being left alone with 
God and finding no one to help, in the bitterness of my soul I 
turned with many sighs to the blessed martyr Thomas, whose 
relics I bore round my neck, and began to invoke him. A won- 

104 ^T. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, io 

to the munificence of King Henry L, who was 
there buried, held a place scarcely second to any 
amongst the glorious religious houses of England ; 
and certainly among the events of its history none 
are more interesting than its consecration by St. 
Thomas of Canterbury. It was founded to re- 
ceive the famous relic of the hand of St. James 
the Greater, which was brought from Germany 
by the Empress Matilda, together with the impe- 
rial regalia. The precious treasure has survived 
the destruction of the abbey built to receive it, 
and is now preserved at Danesfield, near Great 
Marlow, happily in Catholic hands.^ 

Later in the same year, 1163, our Saint's 
natural love of magnificence was again instru- 
mental in throwing lustre on the great functions 
of the Church. Of this we have a more detailed 
and minute account than of the former. Pope 
Alexander had not long before canonized an 
EngHsh saint. On the 7th of February, 1161, 
apostolic letters 7 from Anagni placed St. Edward 
in the list of holy confessors, whose title he had 
earned, as it were, as his surname. On the 
receipt of these letters, Laurence, Abbot of West- 
minster, caused the appropriate Mass to be sung 
in honour of the newly canonized saint, as had 

derful thing then happened. In a way that I cannot describe, 
without human help, at my invocation of the holy martyr, the 
Lord put my horse on his feet and directed my steps, and put a 
new song into my mouth, a hymn to our Lord, Who is above all 
things blessed for ever." 

6 See The Month for February, 1882. 

7 Surius, De pyoh. SS. vitis, Jan. 5; Colon. Agrip. 1618, vol. i. 
p. 78. 


already been done by a Cardinal in the presence 
of the Pope. He would at once have proceeded 
to translate the holy relics, if the King, who was 
then abroad, had not expressed his wish that this 
ceremony might be delayed until he could himself 
be present. 

On the day being fixed, in the October after the 
King's return to England, the Abbot made the 
necessary preparations. He considered it need- 
ful that the tomb should be previously opened. 
Several times he essayed to do this, and each 
time his heart failed him through reverence for 
those most august relics of a temple of the Holy 
Ghost. At length, one morning after Matins, the 
Abbot, the Prior, and several of the monks who 
had been specially chosen, remained in the choir 
when the other religious retired. Having pre- 
pared themselves by fasting, they now added 
prayers, and litanies, and psalms. The Abbot 
and Prior, taking two of the monks with them, 
and leaving the rest in prayer before the high 
altar, went barefoot and vested in albs to the 
tomb of St. Edward ; and when it was opened, 
they saw the sacred body clad in a robe of cloth 
of gold, with purple shoes, and wearing a coronet 
of wrought gold upon his head. A long white 
beard, slightly curling, rendered his appearance 
very venerable. When they had recovered from 
the awe which first struck them, the other monks 
who had been left before the altar were called ; 
and they found that the body, which had been 
buried there very little less than a century, had 
been preserved by God from all corruption. The 


vestments were stained by the stone which they 
had touched so long, and the dust had fallen in, 
but this was easily wiped away. They lifted him 
from where he lay, and wrapped him in a precious 
silk ; and then they laid him in a new wooden 
chest or shrine as they had found him, save that 
the Abbot Laurence took the ring from his finger 
as a precious relic. 

The 13th of October was the day chosen for 
the translation ; and this day ultimately became 
the festival of St. Edward, when, at the instance 
of Cardinal Howard,^ the feast was extended by 
the Ven. Pope Innocent XI. to the Universal 
Church ; for the 5th of January, the day on which 
St. Edward died, was the vigil of the Epiphany. 

Besides the Archbishop of Canterbury, there 
were present eleven of the suffragans, as well 
as three Bishops from Normandy. The nobility 
were headed by eight English earls. When 
the great personages present had satisfied their 
devotion by gazing upon the holy treasure, it 
was carried in solemn procession through the 
cloisters on the shoulders of the King and nobles, 
before it was placed by the hands of St. Thomas 
in the shrine in Westminster Abbey, which still 
preserves it for us. The Archbishop left amongst 
the treasures of the church, as an offering to 
St. Edward, an image of the Blessed Virgin 
wrought in ivory. 

8 The decree S.R.C. of 29th May, 1679, ordered the feast of 
St. Edward to be kept by the Universal Church on the 9th 
October; but it was followed by another decree S.R.C. on 6th 
April, i58o, assigning the 13th for the festival. 


There is but one more event to record in which 
St. Thomas and King Henry harmoniously co- 
operated. We have seen how, even in the daj^s 
of his chancellorship, St. Thomas had used all 
his influence with the King to restrain him from 
the crying sin and tyranny of the Norman 
monarchs, the usurpation of vacant bishoprics. 
It is not to be supposed that now he was Arch- 
bishop, he should feel less warmly on the subject. 
He therefore urged upon Henry the duty, of per- 
mitting the vacant sees to be filled by canonically 
chosen pastors. He was successful ; and he had 
the gratification of consecrating two worthy pre-, 
lates on the only occasions when he was called 
upon to perform this important part of his duties 
as Metropolitan : Roger, the son of the Earl of 
Gloucester, was made Bishop of Worcester ; and 
Robert de Melun, an Englishman, who had // 
earned his surname by the success with which 
he had conducted his schools on the Continent, 
and who had had John of Salisbury and other 
famous men amongst his disciples, was made 
Bishop of Hereford in the place of Gilbert Foliot. 
They were consecrated in Christ Church, Canter- 
bury, after due profession of canonical obedience, 
Roger^ on the 26th of August, and Robert de 
Melun '° on the 22nd of December. Before the 
latter date, however, important events had occur- 
red, which influenced in the highest degree the 
whole future life of our Saint. 

9 Diceto, p. 536. The Tewkesbury Annals say August 23. 
Gervase, however (p. 182), says that Roger's consecration was 

fter Easter in the following year. 

10 Gerv. p. 176. 




Resignation of the chancellorship — resumption of Church lands^ 
sermon before the King — excommunication of William of 
Eynesford — -Clarembald, Abbot-elect of St. Augustine's — the 
Council of Woodstock and the sheriffs' tax — crimes of 
Churchmen, Philip of Brois and four others — their punish- 

The Storm did not break altogether without 
warning. The conduct of the courtiers had re- 
sembled the vane, which before a gale shows the 
variableness of the wind. The large isolated 
drops, too, had fallen ; for no little offence had 
been taken at some of the actions of the Primate. 
And yet in these cases St. Thomas was clearly 
in the right. Surely he is not to be blamed for 
having " afforded the only instance which has 
occurred of the chancellorship being voluntarily 
resigned, either by layman or ecclesiastic."' If 
love of power had been his passion, by retaining 
the chancellorship, and uniting with it the highest 
ecclesiastical position in England, he might have 
held, without a single act of meanness, or the 
practice of one of the low arts by which men so 
often rise, the very highest place possible of 

I Campbell's CUancdlors, i. p. 97. 


attainment by an English subject. But God had 
other work in store for him ; the freedom of the 
Church was in danger, and he was the champion 
raised up in its defence. His eyes, so clear- 
sighted naturally, were enlightened by Divine 
grace ; and as he saw his work before him, he 
set himself manfully, aye and like a Saint as he 
was, to perform it. 

Another act, or rather chain of actions, besides 
the resignation of the Great Seal, had irritated 
the Court. St. Thomas had recalled all grants 
of Church lands made by his predecessors ; and 
had taken steps to vindicate to the Church all 
the property that had been still more unjustly, 
because arbitrarily, taken from her. The ground 
of this proceeding was, that previous Archbishops 
had exceeded their powers in granting Church 
lands, so that their alienation was invalid ; for 
they were the stewards only, and not the lords 
or owners, of the Church's patrimony, which, 
having been given to God, could be alienated 
only by the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. It 
would be but special pleading to defend St. 
Thomas in this matter, by saying that he had 
received the royal license to recall these grants, 
for he knew that the King, with all the weight 
of the civil power, could not sanction or validate 
such alienations of Church property ; but still it 
is right to record that the King was aware of 
St. Thomas's intentions, and permitted them, 
and that consequently to make them a ground 
of quarrel or complaint would be most unjustifi- 
able. Thus far, however, the courtiers alone 


have to be accused. The King seems not to 
have allowed anything that had yet happened 
to create more than a passing irritation against 
his former favourite ; though he probably felt a 
strong suspicion that matters would not rest 

Such an anticipation was well founded. All 
had not been done that was required to vindicate 
for the Church what was her own ; nor was it 
likely that a Prelate, who had begun his career 
as nqbly as St. Thomas had done, would rest 
contented as if his work were finished, when it 
was, in truth, but scarcely begun. His next acts 
brought him into direct collision with the King, 
but in no rash or injudicious manner ; for he 
gave way up to the very confines of duty, and 
much beyond what we should have expected of 
him. It seems to have been preceded by another 
warning. It is related that he preached a very 
eloquent sermon before the King, the subject of 
which was the distinction between the spiritual 
power and the temporal, and the immeasurable 
superiority and higher order of the one over the 
other. This was a truth which courtier-bishops 
had not too often preached, and one, moreover, 
not likely to be acceptable to a King of the 
despotic Norman race. Its proclamation by an 
Archbishop of Canterbury must have recalled to 
many minds the preaching of St. Anselm ; and 
to some it must have brought a presentiment of 
the recurrence of that famous contest in which 
the weak had overcome the strong, in accordance 
with the promise made to the Roman Church, 


" Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be 
broken ; and on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall 
grind him to powder." 

It was a privilege of the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury to present to all benefices in country places 
belonging to his barons or monks. In the ex- 
ercise of this power, he conferred the church 
of Eynesford upon a cleric named Laurence. 
William of Eynesford, the lord of the manor, 
expelled Laurence's people; for which St. Thomas 
excommunicated him. The King immediately 
wrote to the Archbishop, bidding him absolve 
him. The answer might have been anticipated, 
that it was not for a King to decide who should 
be absolved, any more than who should be ex- 
communicated. The King was so angry at the 
answer, that he would not see the Archbishop, 
nor communicate with him, except by mes- 
sengers ; and, for the sake of peace, St. Thomas 
absolved the offender. The King, who was then 
at Windsor, said, when he heard of it, " Now he 
no longer has my favour." 

Another question, in which Henry seems to 
have taken part against the Archbishop, arose 
somewhat earlier. Clarembald had been elected 
Abbot of St. Augustine's at Canterbury ; but on 
his application to be blessed to that dignity by 
the Primate in the usual manner, he stipulated 
that it should take place in his own abbey church, 
and not in the cathedral ; and that it should be 
without any profession of subjection or canonical 
obedience. St. Thomas refused to perform the 
ceremony, and Clarembald appealed to Rome. 


The King seems to have been inclined to favour 
the Abbot-elect.^ 

A more important matter, and one which an 
impetuous monarch would feel far more deeply, 
occurred soon after. In it St. Thomas appears 
as the opponent of despotic tyranny, and in a 
singularly favourable light to modern eyes. A 
species of tax had sprung up through custom, 
which, in its origin, seems to have been little 
else than a kind of black mail, a composition 
with tyrannical officials. It consisted of two 
shillings on every hide of land, which was paid 
to the sheriffs, on the condition that they should 
defend the contributors from the exactions of 
their subordinates.^ At a council held at the 
royal palace of Woodstock, the King demanded 
that this tax should for the future be paid into 
the treasury, by which means a very large revenue 
would be obtained. None dared to speak but 
the Archbishop, who firmly but quietly told the 
King that the tax in question was but a voluntary 
offering, which his sheriffs should receive as long 
as they did their duty ; but that if they did not 

2 Diceto, p. 534. Thorne, a monk of St. Augustine's, says in 
his Chronicle o*' that house (p. 181 5) that Clarembald was in- 
truded by the King. 

3 Canon Robertson says that the words of Roger of Pontigny 
mean that the sheriffs were to defend the nobles against, not 
" the subordinates of the sheriffs," but "their, the earls' and 
barons', vassals." No other writer so understands the words, 
nor is it easy to see what need there was to protect nobles from 
their own vassals. The contribution was for freedom a grava- 
minibus et calumniis, "from exactions and vexatious trials in the 
sheriffs' court." Ne que 7iul n'eti deussent empleidier ne greuer, is 
Garnier's expression for the same. 


do SO, it should not be paid ; and by no law could 
its collection be enforced. The King, in one of 
his sudden and characteristic fits of anger, ex- 
claimed, " By God's Eyes it shall be enrolled." 
St. Thomas answered, "By the reverence of those 
Eyes b}- which thou hast sworn, my lord the 
King, not a penny shall be paid from my lands, 
nor from the rights of the Church." On the 
constancy of the Archbishop it appeared to de- 
pend whether the country and posterity should be 
illegally burdened or no. " This is the first case," 
says Dr. Stubbs,^ " of any opposition to the 
King's will in the matter of taxation which is 
recorded in our national history ; and it would 
seem to have been, formally at least, successful." 
The success was however in all probability only 
temporary. In 1170 the King held in London 
what is called the " Inquest of Sheriffs," in which, 
by an extraordinary act of authority, he removed 
all the sheriffs of the kingdom from their offices, 
and substituted for them officers of the Exchequer. 
Dr. Stubbs says that this tax " can hardly have 
been anything else than the Danegeld," and it 
certainly is very remarkable that from this very 
year 1163 the Danegeld ceases to appear as a 
distinct item of account in the Pipe Rolls ; but 
it is surely impossible to identify the two taxes. 
The one was enrolled until this year, the other 
the King wanted then to enrol, and was prevented 
from so doing by the courageous opposition of 
St. Thomas. Of this tax paid to the sheriffs we 
know of nothing beyond the information we re- 
4 Constitutional History, vol. i. p. 463. 

114 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, ii 

ceive from our Saint's biographers; but whatever 
it was, we may be sure that the coHision on the 
subject would not help to close the growing breach 
between the Archbishop and the King. 

The personal hostility which King Henry was 
now beginning to entertain against St. Thomas, 
soon found vent in an attack upon the liberties 
of the clergy. This was a part of the King's 
policy of self-aggrandisement, in which he had 
been restrained by the Saint whilst he exercised 
an influence over him. 

The most important of the cases of ecclesias- 
tical trials for crimes, of which Henry made use 
in his attack on that provision of the common 
law of Christendom that enacted the immunity 
of the clergy from secular jurisdiction, was the 
case of Philip of Brois, of which we have the 
accounts of five writers. He was a canon of 
Bedford, who had been accused of the murder 
of a soldier ; and having been canonically tried 
in the diocesan court of Lincoln, had been ac- 
quitted. Simon Fitzpeter, one of the King's 
itinerant justices at Dunstable, attempted to 
bring him to account before his own court ; on 
which Philip, losing his temper, insulted the 
justice. Simon forthwith went to London, and 
laid the case before Henry, who fell into one of 
his usual fits of rage, and swore his favourite 
oath, that he would hold every insult to his officer 
as offered to himself. The King ordered the trial 
to be held ; but St. Thomas, who was present, 
resisting the summons of a cleric before a lay 
court, offered to try him at Canterbury ; and 


the King, most reluctantly consenting, deputed 
several bishops and barons as the Archbishop's 
assessors. Philip pleaded that he had already 
been tried and acquitted of the graver offence ; 
but he acknowledged the insults to the justice. 
The court held the first plea good ; and for the 
minor offence inflicted the very severe sentence 
of forfeiture of the revenues of his stall for two 
years to the treasury, and that he should make 
satisfaction in the ordinary humiliating manner 
to the insulted magistrate. The King complained 
of the sentence ; and when the Bishops had de- 
clared that they had punished Philip above his 
deserts for the sake of peace and the King's 
honour, he exclaimed, with his usua' temper, 
"By God's Eyes, Par les Oilz Deu," as his 
Norman oath ran, " you shall swear that you 
have not spared him because he was a cleric." 
They were ready to take the oath required ; but 
the King proceeded further by summoning the 
Council of Westminster. 

Unhappily this was not the only case in which 
the scandalous conduct of some members of the 
clergy gave the King a pretext for his attack upon 
the Church. Fitzstephen mentions two more. 
One was a cleric of Worcestershire, who was 
accused of having violated a young lady, and 
murdered her father. St. Thomas caused his 
Bishop to keep him in custody, lest he should 
fall into the hands of the King's justices. The 
sentence upon this prisoner is not recorded ; we 
are not even told whether he was ultimately 
found guilty. The punishment inflicted upon the 


other cleric is very terrible. He had stolen a 
silver chalice from one of the Archbishop's 
churches in London, St. Mary in foro {i.e. in 
Cheap ; otherwise called St. Mary in arcubus, or 
Bow Church). The King wanted him to be tried 
by the secular power ; but St. Thomas degraded 
him, and, to please the King, he was also branded. 

This sad catalogue is concluded by one other 
case. A priest of the diocese of Salisbury was 
accused of murder ; and on his trial before his 
diocesan, on the accusers failing to prove their 
case against him, he was put to the ordeal, and 
being unsuccessful, he was sentenced by the 
Bishop, on St. Thomas's recommendation, to be 
degraded, deprived of his benefices, and confined 
for life in a monastery of strict penance. Her- 
bert, who tells this, also alludes to the sentence 
of banishment having followed degradation in 
the case of some other clerical delinquent. 

Degradation involves the total loss of every 
ecclesiastical privilege and immunity, and the 
degraded cleric becomes as amenable to secular 
tribunals as any layman. This sentence seems 
to have been freely inflicted for grave offences, 
if we may judge by the cases before us. In 
examining them, to judge how far they justify 
the assertion frequently made of the corrupt state 
of the clergy of the time, it must in fairness be 
remarked, that they are taken from all parts of 
England, and that the}- are drawn from an ex- 
ceedingly numerous body of men ; for the clergy 
of England at that time was a far greater body 
than the secular and regular clergy of an}- country 

1163] THE FIRST WRONGS. 11/ 

in Europe now. In all we have five cases re- 
corded. In the first we have a priest accused 
of murder, and insult to a judge ; he is acquitted 
of the first charge, and severely punished for the 
second. In the second case we have an accu- 
sation of rape and murder ; but the issue of the 
trial has not reached us. Sacrilegious theft, in 
the third case, was punished by degradation and 
branding. The accusation of murder in the 
fourth is unsustained by evidence ; and the man, 
who in our time would be acquitted, was sub- 
jected to an ordeal, which resulted in a sentence 
of degradation, deprivation, and imprisonment 
for life. In the last case we hear only of a sen- 
tence of degradation and banishment. 

We cannot accuse of laxity a body by some 
few members of which vice is committed, but 
only that in which it passes unpunished ; and 
certainly if the cases we have given prove the 
existence of vice, they prove also the severity of 
the punishment that followed, even in an exces- 
sive degree of rigour. It was not, therefore, 
because ecclesiastical immunity had become a 
shelter for criminals that the King was induced 
to attempt its overthrow ; his hatred of it arose 
because it placed a limit to his despotic power. 



1 163. 

Proceedings at Westminster — Archdeacons' exactions — punish- 
ment of criminal clerks — the royal customs — the clause 
saving his order — castleries resigned — the King leaves London 
— advice of the Bishop of Lisieux — three Bishops join the 
King — meeting near Northampton between the King and the 
Archbishop — the King's embassies to the Pope — expostula- 
tions with St. Thomas — he promises to yield — he writes to 
the Pope about Roger of York and also about the King — the 
Holy Father encourages him. 

Henry summoned the Bishops to a Council at 
Westminster, at which Herbert of Bosham says 
he was present. The King arrived in London ^ on 
the 1st of October, 1163, and the original object 
of the Council was to declare the right of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury to be Primate of all 
England, notwithstanding the opposition of Roger 
of York. This subject was, however, from the 
very beginning thrown into the background. The 
King was bent on something very different from 
the support of the Archbishop's honours or 
rights. The proceedings opened by the King's 
complaint of the exactions of the Archdea- 
cons, who, he said, made money by people's 

1 " Summa Causa; inter Regem et Thomam " {Matcricils, iv. 

p. 201). 


sins ; and he demanded that no Archdeacon 
should try any one, however guilty, without the 
knowledge of his royal official. He then changed 
the subject. "My thoughts," said he, "are 
thoughts of peace, which is nevertheless much 
disturbed in my kingdom by the wickedness of 
the clerics, who commit many robberies and 
murders. Therefore, my Lord of Canterbury, I 
demand your consent and that of 3'our brethren, 
that clerics who are taken in crimes be straight- 
way degraded, and given over to my officers to 
receive corporal punishment, without any defence 
from the Church. And I also demand that one 
of my officials be present at the degradation, to 
prevent the culprit's escape." 

St. Thomas, who was unable to obtain the 
delay of a day for deliberation, took counsel with 
his brethren in the episcopacy ; and it at once 
appeared that, in the great contest which was 
now beginning, none would have the courage to 1/ 
stand by him. They were " not columns but 
reeds," as the writer we are quoting remarks. 
They proposed to yield to the King ; justifying 
the double punishment, first in the spiritual 
court, and then in the secular, on the ground 
of the higher dignity of the clergy. The Arch- 
bishop replied, that it was unjust to condemn 
a man twice for the same fault, and that the 
ecclesiastical sentence was in itself adequate. 
He added, that the liberty of the Church was 
in danger, for which a Bishop should be pre- 
pared to give his life. To this the Bishops 
answered, ** Let the liberty of the Church perish, ■ 

120 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 12 

lest we perish ourselves. Much must be yielded 
to the mahce of the times." This was an allusion 
to the German Antipope. The reply aroused St. 
Thomas's zeal. " Who hath bewitched you, O 
foolish Bishops ? Much must be yielded to the 
malice of the time, I grant ; but are we to add 
sin to sin ? It is when the Church is in trouble, 
and not merely in times of peace, that a Bishop 
must dare to do his duty. It was not more 
meritorious for Bishops of old to give their blood 
for the Church, than it is now to die in defence 
of her liberty. I declare, God be my witness, 
that it is not safe for us to leave that form which 
we have received from our holy fathers. Nor 
can we expose any one to death, for we are not 
allowed to take any part in a trial of life and 

The King soon heard what had passed. Find- 
ing that, through St. Thomas's firmness, he could 
not gain his point, he suddenly advanced a new 
demand. He required a promise that they would 
in all things observe his royal customs. After 
consultation, St. Thomas answered that he and 
his brethren would do so, saving their order. The 
King, enraged at the condition, put the same 
question to the other Bishops ; and received the 
same answer from all, except Hilary of Chichester, 
who, frighf'ened at the King's anger, promised to 
observe them in good faith. This change, which 
was made on his own authority, gained him 
nothing ; for the King insulted him, and, turning 
to the Archbishop and Bishops, he declared that 
they were in a conspiracy against him, and 


renewed his demand for an absolute and uncon- 
ditional promise. St. Thomas pleaded that in 
his oath of fealty he had sworn to give him 
"earthly honour, saving his order,''' and that in 
the term " earthly honour " the royal customs 
were included ; that the condition " saving his 
order" was universal throughout Christendom, 
and that he would not depart from it. It was 
now late at night ; and the King left the room 
without saluting the Bishops, who, after an 
anxious day, returned to their lodgings. On their 
departure, Hilary, the Bishop of Chichester, 
received a severe rebuke from St. Thomas, for 
having dared to change the phrase they had 
agreed upon without consulting him or the other 

Early in the morning the King sent to demand 
of St. Thomas the restoration of the castles and 
honours of which he had had charge from the 
time of his chancellorship, and the Saint at once 
resigned them. The King left London at a very 
early hour, without the knowledge of the Bishops, 
several of whom were thoroughly overpowered 
with fear of the consequences of his anger. 

Arnulph, Bishop of Lisieux, a very clever but a 
time-serving prelate, had come over into England 
to obtain a reconciliation with the King, who 
had borne him some ill-will. Anxious to ingratiate 
himself and to show his zeal, he proffered his 
advice in this conjuncture how St. Thomas could 
best be overcome. His idea was that the Saint's 
firmness rested on the support of the other 
Bishops ; and he recommended the King to 

122 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap 12. 

attempt to win them over first. This task was 
not very difficult, for some of the most frightened 
had followed Henry to Gloucester when he left 
London. The first to join the King's party were, 
Hilary of Chichester, Roger of York, and Gilbert 
of London. Hilary w^as doubtless moved by 
the pusillanimity of which he had already given 
proof; the Archbishop of York probably by the 
unfortunate rivalry which had long existed be- 
tween the two metropolitan sees, fostered by the 
personal animosity Roger had ever borne against 
St. Thomas ; but what moved Gilbert of London? 
Perhaps it was some feeling of disappointed 
ambition ; perhaps it was a fear for his posses- 
sions and his power ; but whatever caused it, 
Gilbert's first false step was taken, and hence- 
forward the Bishop became the champion of the 
world against the Church. 

Roger of Pontigny, who had admirable oppor- 
tunities of hearing of all these occurrences from 
the mouth of St. Thomas and his companions 
not long after they happened, gives an account of 
a curious interview between the King and the 
Archbishop, which took place subsequent to the 
Council of Westminster. The King summoned 
the Saint to meet him at Northampton, intending 
to see whether he could not by his own influence 
induce him to give up the obnoxious condition. 
As the Archbishop was nearing Northampton, 
the King sent him out word (it was not known 
with what particular motive) that he was to wait 
for the King at the spot where he was ; for, as 
both were attended by a numerous suite, Nor- 


thampton could not hold them. The Archbishop 
turned aside into a field, and before long Henry 
joined him. The prelate took care to be the first 
to make his salutation. Their horses began to 
kick and neigh, which prevented their meeting 
till they had changed them ; and then they with- 
drew apart. The King thus began : " Have not 
I raised you from a mean station to the height of 
honour ? It seemed but little to me to make you 
the father of the kingdom, and even to prefer 
3'ou to myself. How comes it that you have so 
suddenly forgotten all the proofs of my affection 
for you, that you are now not only ungrateful, 
but my opponent in everything ? " 

" Far be it from me, my lord," was the Saint's 
reply. " I am not ungrateful for the favours 
which I received, not from yourself alone, but 
from God through you ; wherefore far be it from 
me to be ungrateful enough to resist your will, as 
long as it agrees with the will of God. Your 
worthiness knows how faithful I have been to 
you, from whom I look but for an earthly reward ; 
how much more, then, must I do faithful service 
to Almighty God, from whom I have received 
what is temporal, and hope for what is eternal ! 
You are my lord, but He is your Lord and mine ; 
and it would be good for neither of us that I 
should leave His will for yours ; for in the awful 
judgment we shall both be judged as the servants 
of one Lord, and one will not be able to answer 
for the other. We must obey our temporal lords, 
but not against God ; for St. Peter says, we must 
obey God rather than man." 

124 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 12 

Then said the King : " I do not want you to 
preach me a sermon just at present. Are you not 
the son of one of my serfs?" St. Thomas 
answered, " In truth I am not sprung of royal 
race ; no more was blessed Peter, the Prince of 
the Apostles, on whom the Lord deigned to 
confer the keys of Heaven, and the headship of 
the Universal Church." " It is true," said the 
King, " but he died for his Lord." The Saint 
replied, " I too will die for my Lord, when the 
time comes." Henry retorted, " You trust too 
much to the ladder you have mounted by." " I 
trust," he answered, " in the Lord ; for cursed is 
he that putteth his trust in man. I am ready for 
your honour and good pleasure, saving my order ; 
as of old, so also now. But on the matters 
relating to your honour and the good of your 
soul you should have consulted me, whom you 
have always found faithful and useful in your 
counsels, and not those who have raised this 
Hame against me, though 1 have never injured 
them. You will not deny, I think, that I was 
faithful to you before I was in Sacred Orders ; 
much more, then, ought you to expect to find me 
faithful when raised to the priesthood." The 
King continued to urge that the saving clause 
should be omitted ; and the Saint refusing, they 

The active service of Arnulph of Lisieux was 

by no means confined to the shrewd advice which 

had already had such serious consequences in the 

isolation of St. Thomas. Diceto says- that, in 

2 Diceto, p. 536. 


company with Richard of Ilchester, Archdeacon 
of Poitiers, he crossed the Channel six times in 
three months, in different embassies to the Holy 
See, all of which had for their object to put the 
demand regarding the royal customs in a favour- 
able light before the Pope and Cardinals. 

Meanwhile Hilary of Chichester, at the Arch- 
bishop's house at Teynham, and afterwards John 
Count of Vendome and Robert de Melun, Bishop- 
elect of Hereford, at Harrow, had expostulated in 
vain with St. Thomas. Their advice had more 
weight when it was backed by the authority of 
letters, of which Philip, the Cistercian Abbot of 
rAumone,^ was the bearer. He asserted that he 
came from Pope Alexander, bringing the recom- 
mendation that the Archbishop should yield for 
the sake of peace. Roger of Pontigny gives as the 
contents of the Apostolic letters, that they urged 
great moderation and submission to the King ; 
that the Church was in trouble in the troubles of 
its head, and that prudence must avert a similar 
trouble from befalling England. Thus, the Abbot 
observed, the responsibility now rested with the 

3 " Eleemosyna," or I'Aumosne, sometimes called, according 
to Gallia Cliristiann, " le petit Citeaux," was situated "in silva 
Leonia," now called le Foret de Marche Noir, in the diocese of 
Blois. It was founded about 1121, by Theobald, Count of 
Champagne. The Abbey of I'Aumone was the mother of many 
abbeys, and amongst others, of Waverley and Tintern. Philip, 
when Bishop of Tarentum, had fallen into schism under the 
Antipope Anacletus ; and on being therefore suspended, he 
became a religious of Clairvaux, in 11 39. St. Bernard made him 
Prior of Clairvaux ; and in 1156 he became Abbot of I'Aumone. 
In 1 171 he is mentioned in a charter of Henry, Archbishop of 
Rheims, as having resigned his abbacy and returned to 

126 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 12 

Pope. He also brought letters from the Car- 
dinals, who said that the King had assured them 
that he sought for submission for the sake of his 
dignity in the eyes of the kingdom, and not with 
a view to draw any consequences from it to the 
detriment of the Church. The Saint, who was 
then at Harrow, was persuaded by these assur- 
ances ; and going to Woodstock,"* where the King 
was, he promised to omit the phrase that had 
given so much offence. 

The King was somewhat satisfied by this abso- 
lute promise, and he behaved a little more gra- 
ciously towards our Saint ; but still not as he 
used to do. He said that he wished, as the 
opposition had been public, that the obligation to 
observe the customs in this form should be 
accepted in an equally public assembly before the 
Bishops and peers ; and with this view, he sum- 
moned the Council of Clarendon, from which the 
customs or constitutions in dispute ultimately 
took their name. 

During the time occupied by the affairs related 
in this chapter, that is to say during the closing 
months of 1163, St. Thomas had been in commu- 
nication with the Pope on these matters of urgent 
importance and difficulty. We have first a letter^ 
from him to the Holy Father relating to the 
encroachment of Roger of York, who had ven- 
tured to have his cross borne before him in the 
Province of Canterbury ; thus, as St. Thomas 
says, " opposing cross to cross, signifying that 

4 So Roger of Pontigny ; Herbert says Oxford. 

5 Materials, v. p. 44. 


Christ is divided." He says that he had ad- 
monished Roger fraternally, and had shown him 
the Pope's prohibition, in vain ; and the Arch- 
bishop of York had appealed to the Pope, naming 
St. Luke's day, October 18, for the hearing of 
the appeal. St. Thomas sent Odo, the Subprior 
of Christ Church, Canterbury, to represent him 
in this matter. Gilbert Foliot, as has been already 
said, wrote a warm letter^ to the Pope in behalf 
of his Metropolitan, saying that " all antiquity 
attested that to Canterbury alone had it been 
granted to bear the cross," and praying that the 
Pope would provide by his Apostolic authority 
that " he of York might not bear it any longer in 
another's province." By the exclusive privilege 
of Canterbury, Gilbert must mean that its Arch- 
bishop could bear his cross in the Northern 
Province, and this would doubtless go with a 
primacy of jurisdiction, such as we have already 
seen 7 claimed by Canterbury over York. But the 
Pope had granted to Roger, in the preceding 
year, 1162, by letters^ dated from Montpellier, 
July 13, the right of having the cross borne before 
him " as former Popes had granted to his prede- 
cessors, and as they had enjoyed it by ancient 
custom," as well as the further privilege of 
crowning Kings, granted on a similar represen- 
tation of past usage and concessions. The pro- 
hibition St. Thomas speaks of, if it be that which 
has come down to us,^ was not a final decision on 

6 Materials, v. p. 46. 7 Supra, p. 20. 8 Materials, v. p. 21. 

9 Materials, v. p. 68. It bears an impossible date in the 
Cottonian MS. " Lateran, December 29." From Sens in October 
would seem more probable. 

128 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 12 

the matter, but Roger was not to bear his cross 
in the Province of Canterbury, under plea of 
appeal or any other pretext ; for "if he did not 
refrain for a time, he and his successors would 
have to refrain from so doing for ever." 

Even before the Council of Westminster, St. 
Thomas wrote to the Pope,'° not mentioning the 
King by name, but saying that the injuries 
inflicted on the Church succeeded one another 
like wave on wave. "That is stolen from Jesus 
Christ which He bought with His blood ; the 
secular power has put forth its hand upon the 
portion of our Lord ; so that neither the teaching 
of the Fathers, nor the enactments of the canons, 
the very name of which is hated here, are any 
protection to the clergy, who by special privilege 
have been exempt from this jurisdiction hitherto." 
Master Henry, his envoy, will inform his Holiness 
more fully, and St. Thomas begs the Pope to 
keep the whole matter secret, as all that he says, 
or even whispers, in conclave, is carried to the 

This letter the Pope answered from Sens, on 
the 26th of October," saying that the full expla- 
nation of the Saint's troubles had moved him to 
the greatest sympathy "with his dearest brother" 
in his affliction. St. Thomas is to rejoice, as the 
Apostles did when they left the Council, and to 
keep his soul in patience, bearing his afflictions as 
penance for his past sins. The Pope bids him 
appeal to the Holy See without fear, and com- 
mands him to return to Canterbury and to move 

10 Materials, v. p. 48. n Ibid. p. 53. 


about as little as possible ; and he warns him not 
to be induced by any fear or misfortune to resign 
his see. Pope Alexander evidently had the 
strongest dread of the harm that would befall the 
Church in England if St. Thomas were to be sent 
into exile by the King, and when Master Henry 
proposed that he should be summoned to main- 
tain his cause in person, the Pope answered : 
*' God forbid ; let us die sooner than see him so 
come forth and leave his Church desolate."'^ 
What the Pope so dreaded, was rapidly becoming 
a necessity, as we shall see if we accompany our 
Saint to Clarendon and Northampton. 

12 Materials, v. p. 61. 



1 164. 

St. Thomas regrets his promise to yield — expostulations of 
Bishops, Earls and Templars — the Saint yields and promises 
to observe the royal customs — the Bishops make the same 
promise — the Constitutions of Clarendon written — the Saint's 
objections to some of them — seals asked for and refused — the 
cross-bearer's reproach — the Saint's repentance — Herbert 
consoles him — the Saint abstains from Mass and asks abso- 
lution of the Pope. 

On the 29th of January,' 1164, the Council of 
Clarendon assembled. Meanwhile doubts had 
•entered the mind of St. Thomas as to the trust- 
worthiness of the assertions of the Abbot of 
I'Aumone, that the King would not use the pro- 
mise against the Church if it were unconditionally 
made ; and he determined not to renew it in 
public. For prudence sake he tried to keep this 
determination private ; but it reached the King's 
ears, whose rage returned with redoubled vio- 
lence. It now showed itself in demonstrations 
worse than verbal threats : armed men thronged 
the council-chamber, and fear filled every heart 

I Gervase (p. 176) gives the date as St. Hilary, January 14th; 
Diceto (p. 536) says it was January 25th. The " recognitio " 
names the fourth day before the Purification. Wilkins, Leg.Aitgl. 
Sax. p. 322 ; Materials, v. p. 79. 


save his whom they were meant to intimidate. 
Amongst the Bishops were two who had par- 
ticular reason to fear the King's anger, JoceHn of 
Sahsbury and Roger of Worcester;^ the latter, 
who was a young Bishop and a relative of the 
King's, is described as having incurred the royal 
displeasure by the freedom with which he had 
corrected Henry's excesses. These two prelates 
came to St. Thomas, and with tears in their eyes 
implored him to have mercy on them ; for their y 

lives depended on his reconciliation with the / 
King. The Saint encouraged them as best he 
could, but refused to comply. 

They were succeeded by two noblemen, Robert 
Earl of Leicester, and the King's uncle, Reginald 
Earl of Cornwall, who assured him that the King 
was prepared to proceed to extremities, and 
besought him to save their royal master and 
themselves from the disgrace of such a course. 
The Saint answered : " It would not be a new 
nor an unheard-of thing if we did die for the 
Church, since a countless host of Saints have so 
taught us by word and example : God's will be 
done." The threats of the nobles shared the fate 
of the entreaties of the Bishops. 

He was next visited by two Knights of the 
Temple of great reputation and influence: Richard 
of Hastings, the Provincial Master of the English 
Templars, and Hostes of Boulogne. They repre- 

3 Roger of Pontigny (p. 34) has erroneously written "Nor- 
wich." William Turbo was Bishop of Norwich from 1151 to 
1 176. Roger de Melhent, Bishop of Worcester, was grandson to 
King Henry L, and therefore first cousin to Henry H. 


132 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 13 

sented to him once more that which had had such 
weight with him in the mouth of the Abbot of 
I'Aumone. They assured him that what Henry 
feh was the disgrace of being worsted in the 
contest ; and they solemnly pledged themselves 
that the King would not attempt to injure the 
Church, and that nothing more should be heard 
of the constitutions. 

Moved by their earnest solicitations and pro- 
testations, after consulting the other Bishops, 
and accompanied by them, he went to the King 
and said,3 " My lord the King, if the controversy 
between us had been of my personal rights, then 
I never would have opposed your will ; but your 
excellency must not be astonished if I am more 
scrupulous in the cause of God. With a lively 
hope in your prudence and moderation, I assent 
to what is required of me, and in good faith 
promise to observe the customs ; " and he added 
the clause " in the word of truth,'' which was ac- 
counted equivalent to an oath."* 

The words were scarcely out of St. Thomas's 
mouth when the King said with a loud voice : 
" You have all heard what the Archbishop has 
promised me on his own part ; it now only 
remains that at his bidding the other Bishops 
should do the same." " I will," replied the Saint, 
" that they should satisfy your honour as I have 

3 For the speech attributed to St. Thomas by Gilbert Foliot, 
see Note C. 

4 Grim, p. 379; Rog. Pont. p. 35 ; Herb. p. 279. "On the 
word of a priest " (Alan, p. 323 ; Gerv. p. 178) : Fitzstephen 
(p. 48) adds, but evidentlj' inaccurately, " et sigillorum suorum 


done." On this the other Bishops rose and gave 
their consent, save only (singularly enough, after 1/ 
the effort he had made to obtain the Saint's sub- 
mission) Jocelin of Salisbury, who, when the 
Bishops had resumed their seats, asked the Arch- 
bishop whether he ought to promise as they had 
done, and on receiving the reply that he ought, 
he did so. The King shook his head at Jocehn 
and rebuked him, telling him that he was always 
in opposition to him. In spite of the assurance 
of the Templars, St. Thomas was in doubt how 
the matter would end ; and the King's conduct 
showed that he had judged rightly. 

Henry now said, " I suppose that every one 
has heard the promise that the Archbishop and 
Bishops have made, that the laws and customs 
of my kingdom may be better kept and observed. 
In order that for the future there may be no 
more contention on the subject, let my grand- 1 
father Henry's laws be committed to writing." i 
Our Saint observed, that he was one of the 
youngest present, and could not be supposed to 
know what they were ; besides that, as it was 
getting late, and the matter was of great import- 
ance, it would be better to adjourn until the 
following day. This was assented to. 

On the next day, the constitutions were com- 
piled by Richard de Luci and Jocehn de Bailleul,^ 
which have given so sad a notoriety to the 
Council of Clarendon. They were read aloud ; 
and St. Thomas, after consulting Herbert and 
his other divines, made the following objections 
5 See Maicrials, v. p. 388. 

134 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 13 

to them. The first provides that all causes of 
Church advowsons and presentations, whether 
between laymen or clerics, be tried in the King's 
Court. The Saint's objection to this was two- 
fold : first, that by it clerics would be drawn 
before a civil tribunal ; and secondly, that the 
subject matter was purely spiritual and eccle- 

The third constitution declares, that clerics, 
when summoned by the King's justice, shall 
appear in his Court on any accusation ; and 
when found guilty, that the Church should not 
protect them. St. Thomas's remark was : " By 
this' wicked canon, clerics are brought before a 
secular judgment-seat both in criminal and civil 
matters. Christ is judged anew before Pilate." 

The next constitution was, that no Archbishop, 
Bishop, or other person, should leave the king- 
dom without the King's license. St. Thomas 
objected that this would put a stop to pilgrim- 
ages to the holy places, and render the kingdom 
but a spacious prison. Besides, supposing the 
Pope to summon a Council, and the King of 
England to be in opposition to him, and to forbid 
prelates attending, as they must obey God rather 
than men, must they not obey Christ's Vicar in 
spite of the prohibition ? " It was but proper, 
he added, "to apply for the King's licence before 
their departure ; but to bind }'ourself by an oath 
not to leave the country without licence was 
irreligious and wrong." 

The seventh constitution says, that no one 
who holds in chief of the crown, nor any of the 


royal household, can be excommunicated, nor 
their lands placed under an interdict, without the 
King's leave. By this decree the Saint declared 
that the Church was simply degraded, and the 
power was taken from her, which she received 
from God, of binding and loosing even Kings 

The eighth constitution ran thus : Appeals, if 
any arise, are to be taken from the Archdeacon 
to the Bishop, and thence to the Archbishop. 
And if the Archbishop do not show justice, in the 
last instance they are to be brought to the King, 
by whose order the suit is to be ended in the 
Archbishop's Court, and the cause can proceed 
no further without the King's leave. The Saint 
replied, without hesitation, that an Archbishop 
who should consent to this would be guilty of 
perjur}-, for when he received the pallium he took 
an express oath not to hinder appeals to the 
Pope ; adding that it would be a sad day when 
the refuge of the oppressed was taken from 
them, and they were not able to have free 
recourse to the Mother of all Churches, the 
Church of Rome. 

The twelfth constitution began as follows : 
When archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbeys, or 
priories, in the King's dominions fall vacant, they 
must be left in his hands, that he may receive all 
their revenues. The Saint made answer, that the 
treasury was not the place for the property of 
the poor ; and that although this practice had 
certainly sometimes prevailed, yet that the 
Church must always expostulate and resist as 


far as lay in her power, but never give her 

The same constitution continued : When the 
time is come to consult for an appointment to a 
church, the King shall summon the principal 
persons of that church, and in the chapel-royal 
the election shall be held. The Saint was far 
too attached to liberty not to expostulate against 
a form of election so novel and so uncanonical, 
saying, that to sanction such a diversity from the 
rest of Christendom in his island church would 
be to start a schism, as well as to overpower by 
the weight of the King's authority all liberty of 

The King then demanded that the Archbishop 
and Bishopg should affix their seals to the consti- 
tutions ; which was not only to exact the promise 
to observe the royal customs, which they had 
already given, but it was requiring them to 
acknowledge this interpretation of what those 
customs truly were. The Archbishop's answer*^ 
was prompt : " By the Lord Almighty, during 
my lifetime seal of mine shall never touch them." 
On this the King's officials prepared three copies 
on the same sheet ; and tearing it in the usual 
way, they gave one copy to St. Thomas, one to 
the Archbishop of York, and the third they kept 
for the royal archives. St. Thomas took his 
copy : from it these extracts were taken ; and it 

6 Rog. Pont. p. ;57 ; (irim, p. 3S3 ; Garnier, fol. *2i, 1. g. 
Herb. (p. 2.S8) says, that when his seal was demanded, the Arch- 
bishop, though much moved and distressed, yet dissembled, 
fearing to vex the King. He therefore did not positively refuse 
but begged for delay. 


was subsequently placed, as we shall see, in the 
hands of the Pope7 

The Bishop of Poitiers, very shortly after these 
events, wrote to St. Thomas in terms that show 
that the conclusion to which we have arrived was 
that also of his contemporaries, that our Saint, 
though he had unhappily promised to keep the 
royal customs, neither signed nor sealed the con- 
stitutions of Clarendon. " I give God endless 
thanks," he writes,'' "that, as I know for certain 
from the excellent testimony of others, and now 
from your own, you never did absolutely promise 
to observe, as their author boasts, nor did you 
sign as others did, those detestable and profane 
customs which have made their appearance in 
our days." 

He turned his back upon the Court at the 
close of another eventful day, and went in the 
direction of Winchester. Contrary to his usual 
habit, he rode alone, apart from his suite, in deep 
meditation. As they rode on, his attendants 
began to talk in a low voice amongst themselves 
on the events of the day. Some said that what 
the Saint had done was necessary on account of 
the grave character of the time ; others were 
indignant that the liberties of the Church should 
be at one man's beck. That promise to keep the 
royal customs seemed to carry all possible evil 
consequences with it, and the refusal to seal the 

7 Amongst the names of those present at the Council are 
Richier de I'Egle, the Saint's friend in his boyhood, and Hugh 
de ^Nloreville, one of his murderers. 

S Materials, v. p. 112. 


constitutions of Clarendon was forgotten in regret 
for the harm done by the promise.^ The gravity 
of the fault of having made this promise was 
always admitted and asserted by St. Thomas and 
his friends. So John' of Salisbury wrote in 1167, 
" The promise made at Clarendon, to which he 
was urged by the Bishops, I cannot justify, for 
it ought not to have been made, but confession 
atoned for the offence. 

Alexander Llewellen,'° who carried the archi- 
episcopal cross, spoke up louder, to the alarm of 
the rest. " Public power disturbs everything. 
Iniquity rages against Christ. No one is safe 
who loves the truth. In the world's judgment 
they only are wise and venerated who blindly 
follow the King. This tempest has overthrown 
the columns of the Church ; and during the 
shepherd's folly, the sheep are scattered before 
the wolf. Now that the chief has fallen, where 
will innocence be ? who will stand ? who will 
triumph in the battle ? " And then, after a pause, 
"What virtue has he retained, who has betrayed 
his conscience and his fame ? "' 

" To whom does this appl\-, m}- son ? " said the 

9 Materials, vi. p. 235, cf. p. 96. 

10 Herbert's character of Alexander Llewellen is very quaint : 
" Alexander, called in his own language Cuelin, by surname and 
nation, 'the Welshman.' A well-educated man, pleasant in 
alking, and in pleasant speech profuse. Yet all his merit lay not 
in his mouth, for his hand was as read)- as his tongue. With our 
father and for our father, bidden and unbidden, absent and 
present, frequently in great perils, he laboured with caution, 
resolution, and constancy ; and, what is very valuable in his 
nation, his fidelity was equal to his work " 


*' It applies to you, who have to-day betrayed 
your conscience and your fame ; and in an exam- 
ple left to posterity, which is hateful to God and 
contrary to justice, you have stretched out your 
consecrated hands to observe impious customs, 
and you have joined with wicked ministers of 
Satan to the overthrow of the liberty of the 

The Saint groaned, and, acknowledging his sin, 
expressed his horror of it, and declared himself 
unfit for the altar. " By my sins I have brought 
the Church of England into slavery, which my 
predecessors ruled with such prudence in dangers 
as great as these : and this has rightly come in 
my time, who was not taken, as they were, from 
the Church, but from the Court; not from the 
cloister, nor from any place of rehgion, nor from 
the school of the Saviour, but from Caesar's 
service : a proud vain man, a feeder of birds, I 
have been made the shepherd of the sheep : of 
old the favourer of actors and the follower of 
hounds, now the pastor of so many souls. Truly 
my past life was far from advancing the safety of 
the Church ; and now these are my works. I 
plainly see that I am deserted of God, and fit 
only to be cast out of the holy see which I fill." 
And here he began to weep and sob, so as to 
be unable to speak. 

Herbert consoled him as best he could, by 
showing how God often makes even falls condu- 
cive to sanctity. He reminded him of St. Peter, 
who rose by falling. " One thing only remains : 
if, as you say, you have fallen basely, rise the 

140 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 13 

more bravely; be cautious, strong, and valiant. 
And know for a certainty that the Lord will be 
with you, as he was with David, the King and 
Prophet, who had been an adulterer and a 
betrayer ; as He was with the Prince of the 
Apostles, who had apostatized ; as He was with 
the holy and apostolic woman, who had been a 
sinner; and lastly, as He was with the great 
Doctor of the Gentiles, who was first above all 
men a persecutor of the Church. You, too, were 
a Saul : now, if you desire to be a Paul, the 
scales have fallen from your eyes, and your Jesus 
will Himself show you what great things you 
must bear for His Name." 

The Saint was thus somewhat consoled, looking 
more, as Herbert modestly says, to the love and 
fidelity of the speaker than to the value of the 
words. Herbert, looking back, saw Hilary Bishop 
of Chichester following them. St. Thomas, re- 
membering that he had been the first to give up 
the clause " saving his order," said to Herbert, 
" Let him follow, and so let Satan get behind 

The holy prelate took the earliest opportunity 
of sending to the Pope at Sens for absolution for 
his fault. Meanwhile, for about forty days, he 
abstained from offering the Holy Sacrifice of the 
Altar. It may have been even longer, for the 
Pope's letter" is dated April i, 1164. The Holy 
Father reminded him of the difference between 
sins of deliberation and malice and those of 
ignorance or frailty. "If, then, you have com- 

II Materials, v. p, SS. 


mitted anything of which you have now remorse 
of conscience, we counsel you to confess it, 
whatever it be, in penance to a discreet and 
prudent priest : and after this, the merciful Lord, 
Who looks more to the heart than to the actions, 
will, with His usual pity, forgive you. And we, 
trusting in the merits of the blessed Apostles 
Peter and Paul, absolve you from that which you 
have committed, counselling and bidding you that 
on this account you no more abstain from Mass." 

If St. Thomas's own tender conscience had 
not judged him so hardly, we should certainly 
have formed a gentler judgment of his fall. For 
the Constitutions of Clarendon he was in no 
way responsible, though he evidently accounted 
himself so when the promise which he had 
made to observe the customs came to bear 
this interpretation. Still he had hitherto had 
nothing to lead him to anticipate so violent 
an exposition of the roj^al customs as the 
sixteen constitutions presented. The King's 
demands had been comparatively moderate. 
St. Thomas had resisted the infliction of a civil 
sentence upon an offending cleric in addition 
to ecclesiastical degradation, and this he might 
fairly expect to be included under the royal cus- 
toms ; but what could lead him to anticipate 
the iniquities of Clarendon ? Of assent to them, 
at least, he is perfectly guiltless. 

But he doubtless committed an act of grave 
imprudence, endangering he knew not how far 
the liberty of the Church ; and for this he did 
noble expiation. Twice he was persuaded, against 

142 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 13 

his own better judgment, that the King wanted 
nothing but a submission in public to leave the 
victory with him, and that he had no ulterior 
designs upon the Church. St. Thomas knew King 
Henry better ; and here the imprudence lay. The 
King had never assured him so : it had been but 
asserted for him by others who had a point to 
gain. Nor could St. Thomas throw the blame 
of his concession on the Holy See. If we may 
judge by the letters which have come down to us, 
Pope Alexander, while ever urging on St. Thomas 
extreme moderation and submission to the King, 
invariably qualifies it with the important con- 
dition, " saving the honour of the ecclesiastical 
order." It is not probable that the letters of 
which the Abbot of I'Aumone was the bearer, 
which were written when the danger was less 
striking, would be of a different tenour. 

A Circular letter from the Pope^- to the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury and his suffragans, written 
about this time, gives them the clearest directions 
for their conduct. " You know that you have 
received the episcopal charge for this purpose, 
that you may govern the Churches committed 
to you for the honour of God and the profit and 
salvation of your subjects, provided that the 
liberty of those churches be in no ways dimin- 
ished but be preserved by your zeal and pains. 
Hence by these apostolic letters we command 
your fraternity and enjoin in virtue of holy obe- 
dience that if the illustrious King of the English 
exact from you at any time that which shall be 

12 Materials, v. p. 84. 


against ecclesiastical liberty, you in no way 
attempt so to do, nor bind yourselves to him in 
anything, especially against the Roman Church, 
nor presume to bring in any new form of promise 
or oath, other than that which bishops have been 
accustomed to make to their kings. And if you 
should have already bound yourselves to the King 
in anything of the kind, know that you must by 
no means observe what you have promised, but 
must recall it, and strive to reconcile yourselves 
to God and the Church for so sinful a promise." 
It has been supposed that this letter reached the 
English Bishops before the Council of Clarendon. 
But in any case the letter shows us that the 
Abbot of I'Aumone could not possibly have shown 
to St. Thomas letters from the Pope justifying 
any concession to the injury of the Church and 
the Holy See. A general promise to observe the 
royal customs must necessarily have meant some 
compromise of those ecclesiastical rights, of which 
the Archbishop was the official guardian, and that 
compromise was unlawful. 

Such would be the judgment of a Catholic on 
the fall of St. Thomas. The spirit which has 
generally moved modern historians would, if it 
were consistent, find still less to blame. Some 
writers find fault with the Saint for yielding when 
he did, others for not yielding sooner. On their 
own principles they are equally inconsistent. The 
first, in order to place the conduct of the Saint 
in a really blameworthy light, are obliged to rely 
upon singularly insufficient evidence, or to distort 
the facts of history. Thus some, trusting to the 

144 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 13 

mendacious pamphlet afterwards written by Gil- 
bert Foliot, accuse him of a wilful and deliberate 
perjury; while others assert that he signed, though 
he afterwards refused to seal, the Constitutions 
of Clarendon. 

A Protestant is more consistent, who blames 
St. Thomas for refusing his immediate and abso- 
lute consent. In his eyes, to make an exception 
in favour of his order is to falter in his allegiance; 
and he fondly persuades himself that the Consti- 
tutions of Clarendon, identical in spirit, and 
almost in the letter with the modern statute-law 
of England, were in reality the ancient customs '^ 
of the realm : as if it were possible in those days 
for anything to be the unwritten common law of 
the land w^hich was contrary to the coronation 
oath of the Sovereign, or to become law in spite 
of the protests of the Church, who was herself a 
component part of the constitution of the country. 
The King had no claim to exact more than the 
oath of fealty gave him. Now, besides the asser- 
tion of St. Thomas, which we have given above, 
we have a singular proof from the Constitutions 
of Clarendon themselves what the terms of the 
oath were ; that is, what the profession of obedi- 
ence and submission was which the King had a 
right to exact from a prelate according to the law 
of the land. The twelfth constitution, after 
speaking of vacant sees and of elections in the 
manner we have already quoted, says : " And 

13 " These customs had never been written before, nor had 
they even existed in the realm of England " (Fitzstephen, p. 47). 
This is beyond dispute with respect to some of them. 


there the elect, before he is consecrated, shall do 
homage and fealty to our Lord the King, as to 
his liege lord, of life and limb, and his earthly 
honour, saving his order." Even by those who do 
not see as Catholics see, St. Thomas should be 
regarded as the opponent of a tyrannical effort of 
one estate to triumph over another, and under a 
specious pretence really to introduce a change in 
the constitution of the country. 



1 164. 

The King asks that the Archbishop of York may be legate — the 
Abbot-elect of St. Augustine's — Gilbert Foliot's profession — 
King Louis of France — St. Thomas asks the Pope to confirm 
the Constitutions of Clarendon. 

The first effort of the King to crush our Saint, 
y after the Council of Clarendon, was to send 

the Bishop of Lisieux and the Archdeacon of 
Poitiers to the Pope, to try to gain from him 
that the Archbishop of York might be legate in 
England instead of St. Thomas. The Pope re- 
plied, that York had ever been subject to Can- 
terbury ; " and shall be," he added, " as long as 
I live." The King hardly listened to their answer/ 
but immediately despatched Geoffrey Ridel, Arch- 
deacon of Canterbury, and John of Oxford to the 
v/ Pope, to renew the same request. On the re- 
fusal of his Holiness, they represented to him, 
on their knees, the precariousness of the life of 
St. Thomas, if the King were to be irritated by 
another repulse ; and to save the life of the 
Saint, which he believed to be in danger, the 
y/ Pope gave them the letters, dated Sens, Febru- 

I Materials, v. p. 85. 


ary 27, 1164, transferring the office of legate^ to 
the Archbishop of York ; but the messengers 
were hampered by a promise which they made 
in the King's name, and which they offered to 
confirm by an oath, that they would not deUver 
them without the knowledge and permission of 
the Pope, or, as another version of the Pope's 
letter^ has it, without the consent of St. Thomas. 
Even with these terms, which rendered the con- 
cession absolutely nugatory, the messengers 
would fain return rather than empty-handed. 
After showing the letters about for a short time, 
as if to lead people to believe that he had re- 
ceived power over the Saint, the King, who had 
never made much of them, returned them to 
the Pope. The Holy Father, who had much 
regretted that he had granted the letters at all, re- 
ceived them with such satisfaction as to cause 
no little astonishment. They reached him on 
the same day with the news of the death of 
Octavian, the Antipope,^ which event gave some 
hope of peace to the Church. The letters and 
messages which the King's ambassadors brought 
were, according to the account of apparently 
two different witnesses,^ who were residing at the 
Court, of the humblest tenour ; though the report 

2 Roger of Pontigny (p. 38), Hoveden (Ann. p. 2S2 b), and 
apparently some of the other writers, express themselves as if 
the King himself had been made legate. The letters are, how- 
ever, very clear. 

3 Materials, v. p. S7. 

4 Octavian died at Lucca on the Wednesday after Low Sun- 
day, April 20, 1 164. 

5 Materials, v. pp. Sg, 94. 

148 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 14 

reached the Bishop of Poitiers that they were 
indignant and abusive. These messengers pre- 
tending that it was necessary for them to return 
immediately, the Cardinals of Naples, Porto, and 
Pavia, who took a part adverse to St. Thomas, 
petitioned the Pope with much energy, though 
quite unsuccessfully, for ampler and more abso- 
lute letters, conferring the office of legate upon 
the Archbishop of York. 

In the matter of the cross of the Archbishop 
of York, a very curious thing happened. The 
Pope's letters from Montpellier, had conferred 
on him the privilege, " as his predecessors had 
enjoyed it ; " but in some later copy, or other 
letters obtained from the Pope by Roger, the 
words per iotain Angliam^ were by an oversight 
inserted. These were recalled by letters from 
Sens, dated January 21st. 

On another point the decision of the H0I3' 
See was more adverse to St. Thomas. We have 
seen that Clarembald, the Abbot-elect of St. 
Augustine's, had refused to receive the blessing 
of the Saint, unless it were in his own church, 
and without any profession of obedience. To 
gain this and some other points, which we have 
yet to mention, St. Thomas sent to the Pope at 
different times several of his most faithful follow- 
ers, who afterwards bore exile and hardships 
with him, as the Bishop of Poitiers, Master 
Henry, Gunter of Winton, whom Herbert calls 

C " Ex oblivione potius quam ex industria contigit . . . non 
enim tenorem priorum literarum memoriter tenebamus " [Mate- 
rials, V. p. C9). 

1164] NEGOTIATIONS. 149 

"a simple, faithful little man," Hervey of Lon- 
don, who died on such an embassy, and several 
others. Many of the Saint's letters to his friends, 
and their accounts in return to him, are extant, 
and from one of them we learn how anxious he 
was upon this and some other points. If the 
chronological arrangement of these letters were 
not so open to doubt, it would be far easier to 
write the history of these events. As it is, it 
would seem as if the letter of the Pope to 
Clarembald, dated Montpellier, July loth, must 
have been the first answer, and that an entirely 
favourable one, to the Saint's petition ; but that 
afterwards the Abbot-elect had shown to the 
Pope the privileges granted by the Holy See to 
the Abbey of St. Augustine, and that in conse- 
quence of them an imperative order was issued 
to St. Thomas to perform the benediction, with 
the addition, that if he delayed, the Pope would 
send for Clarembald, and perform it with his 
own hands. The moderation of the King's mes- 
sengers, mentioned above, probably promoted 
this measure. Eventually Clarembald was de- 
prived by Alexander III.'' He never received his 
abbatial benediction, and was ejected by Arch- 
bishop Richard, St. Thomas's successor.^ 

There was yet another question which St. 
Thomas carried for solution to the Pope. It 

7 The Bishops of Exeter and Worcester, and the Abbot of 
Faversham, who were sent as a commission from the Holy 
See to examine into the truth of charges of a personal character 
made against him, report him to have been a fearfully wicked 
man (Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 268). 
Gerv. p. 77. 

150 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 14 

had been raised at the Council of Tours ; but 
now that he felt that Gilbert Foliot was taking 
an undutiful part against him, he much wished 
to exact from him a fresh profession of canonical 
obedience, which in those days was a matter of 
considerable moment, being a personal obligation 
similar in its nature to feudal homage amongst 
laymen. Gilbert, on his consecration to Here- 
ford, had made his profession to Theobald as 
his Archbishop ; and St. Thomas wished him 
now to repeat it to him, the plea being his 
translation to London. The argument which 
the Bishop of Poitiers used to the Pope was, 
that if the translation had been to another pro- 
vince, it would absolve from the former pro- 
fession, and render a second necessary. This 
was, however, overruled as bad canon law, by 
which the first profession held until the person 
making it became subject to another jurisdiction ; 
and consequently a second profession could not 
be required from Gilbert, unless it were the local 
custom of that Church to make a personal pro- 
fession to the Archbishop himself, and not to 
him and to his successors in his office.^ 

John of Salisbury, who had been banished'" 

9 Materials, V. p. 130. 

10 Fitzstephen (p. 46) says, that the King sent not only John of 
Salisbury, but also John the Treasurer of York, into exile, that 
St. Thomas might not have their help against him. The latter 
is as incorrect as his statement that the Bishops sealed the 
Constitutions of Clarendon ; for John the Treasurer of York, 
who figures so well in his story of the Burgess of Scarborough 
(p. 44), was made Bishop of Poitiers while the King was friendly 
with St. Thomas, and he was consecrated by the Pope himself 
in the Council of Tours (Diceto, Imag. p. 53G). This good 
prelate was a friend worthy of St. Thomas. 


or the sake of St. Thomas by the King, probably 
soon after the Council of Clarendon," wrote to 
the Saint as soon as he reached Paris, telling 
him that, to his astonishment, he found the 
affairs of the two councils, which had been then 
held, widely known, and much exaggerated. On 
these reports reaching his ears, Louis, the King 
of France, offered St. Thomas a safe refuge in 
his country. The Saint answered,'^ that while 
there was no one on the face of the earth, save 
the King of England, in whom he had greater 
trust, or towards whom he entertained more 
well-merited gratitude, than the King of France, 
he was bound to refuse the gracious offer ; for 
there was some hope of peace being restored 
between himself and his Sovereign. " And do 
you, if it please you," the letter concluded, " if 
you should happen to speak with him, blame 
him for ever thinking evil of a man who has 
served him so much and so faithfully, who has 
ever loved him with a true love, and upon whom 
he has conferred so many honours." The efforts 
to promote peace here spoken of seem to have 
had a partial or temporary success, for in a 
subsequent letter '^ to the King of France, St. 
Thomas tells Louis that there is but one thing 

11 Materials, v. p. 95. This letter Mr. Froude dates from Paris, 
October, 1163, that is, immediately after the Council of West- 
minster ; but the other council mentioned in the letter, which 
John of Salisbury calls " of Winchester," is evidently Clarendon ; 
and therefore the letter cannot bear date earlier than the begin- 
ning of 1 164. 

12 Materials, v. p. 70. 

13 Ibid. p. 80. 


152 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 14 

to disturb the newly restored and perfect peace 
between himself and the King, and that was a 
report which annoyed the King, that the Arch- 
bishop had denounced him to the Pope and to , 
the King of France as a persecutor and oppressor I 
of the Church ; and St. Thomas begs Louis to 
bear witness that the report was untrue. The 
fact was, that the King's actions had been abun- 
dantly sufficient to give birth to such a report, 
and St. Thomas had done nothing more than 
state his case. About this time the Saint wrote 
to King Henry himself, in a tone quite calculated 
to attain his end, urging upon him that God 
would never leave the state of the Church in 
England unavenged, and promising him every 
blessing in God's name if he would remedy its 

St. Thomas has never received the credit he 
deserves for the efforts which he made at this 
time for the restoration of peace. The account 
just given of his correspondence with King Louis 
is a proof of his exertions. Another is afforded 
by the way in which he met the mediation of 
Rotrou de Beaumont, the Bishop of Evreux. 
This prelate, who was the son of the Earl of 
Warwick, and was afterwards raised to the 
archbishopric of Rouen, had gone to the King 
at Porchester, who had told him that in one 
way only could peace be restored, and that was 
by the Archbishop's gaining from the Pope a 
confirmation of the customs. St. Thomas, 
fearing to give the King a fair cause for com- 
plaint, actually sent such a request to the 


Pope, considering, doubtless, that the Hberty of 
the Church was at least as safe in the Pope's 
hands as in his own. This may have been the 
moment of the pacification of which St. Thomas 
speaks to King Louis. As the Saint had antici- 
pated, the Pope absolutely refused'-^ any such 
confirmation, though the constitutions were repre- 
sented to him as those to which St. Thomas and 
other bishops had promised their assent. The 
letter of the Pope, it must be said, makes no 
mention of any application from St. Thomas for 
the approbation of the constitutions, but Edward 
Grim and William of Canterbury say it explicitly, 
and the former adds that the Pope's refusal was 
attributed by the King to the Saint. 

Thus was St. Thomas prudently warding off, 
as far as was in his power, the coming trouble ; but 
in spite of all his efforts it advanced apace upon 
him. Meanwhile, by the Pope's order, prayer 
was offered up to God for him in holy Houses, 
where the odour of St. Bernard's sanctity was 
yet fresh, Citeaux, Clairvaux, and Pontigny. 

14 Materials, v. p. S6. Dated Sens, February 27, 1164. 



1 164. 

St. Thomas tries to see the King — his unsuccessful attempt to 
cross the Channel — he returns to Canterbury — interview 
with the King — Council summoned at Northampton —John 
he Marshal and his appeal — St. Thomas reaches Nor- 
thampton — interview with the King before the Council met — 
proceedings of the first day — fine for contempt — John the 
Marshal — accounts of Chancellorship — second day's proceed- 
ings — further money demands — the Saint deserted by his 
retainers — third day spent in consultations. 

On the ultimate failure of negotiations, St. 
Thomas attempted to obtain a personal inter- 
view with the King, and with this intention he 
went to Woodstock. He was not admitted into 
the royal presence, and retired towards Canter- 
bury. He then went to Romney,^ intending to 
try to cross the sea and visit the Pope, in spite 
of the illegal, though royal, prohibition of Claren- 
don. Accompanied by two or three of his per- 
sonal attendants, he made two attempts in the 
night to cross the Channel ; but without success, 
either on account of the unfavourable wind, or 
through the fear of the sailors, who represented 
it as unfavourable and that a return was neces- 
sary, lest they should be punished by the King 

I So Fitzstephen (p. 49), and Roger (p. 40). "His manor 
called Aldington" (Alan, p. 325). 

ii64j the council OF NORTHAMPTON. I55 

for having assisted the Archbishop. The time 
was not yet come in God's purposes for the 
shepherd to be separated from his flock. St. 
Thomas was greatl}- fatigued by this useless 
tossing on the sea, and landed much exhausted. 

To this time we must probably refer a little 
story,^ which is characteristic of the times in the 
attention it mentions as given to sortes, or pas- 
sages taken from books by hazard. When St. 
Thomas was seeking safety by flight, early one 
morning, as he was walking along and meditating 
on the sadness of his condition, he was met by a 
certain clerk. " Whither away ? " he inquired. 
"I am going," quoth the scholar, "to school at 
Canterbury. For I have heard," he continued, 
"that it pleases our noble Archbishop to maintain 
poor scholars. I have hopes therefore of finding 
support under the wings of his fatherly affection 
and goodness ; for I am but a poor orphan, and 
have no means of supporting myself." " And 
what book are you reading, my son," asked the 
Archbishop kindly, " and where is your lesson ? " 
" Cato," answered the scholar, "and here is my 
lesson — 

Esto animo fortis, cum sis damnatus inique. 

The Saint took the verse for an omen, as a 
message of comfort from Almighty God ; and 
telling the clerk that, when he next saw the Arch- 
bishop, he should approach him with confidence, 
and, asking his charit}', show the verse for a 

2 It is told by Fordun in his Scotichronicon, and quoted by 
Mr. Brewer in his edition of Giraldus, De Instructione Principum, 
Anglia Christiana Society, 1846. 

156 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 15 

token, he gave him some money, and they sepa- 
rated with mutual comfort. 

On a report of the flight of St. Thomas, a panic 
seized his followers, who accordingly separated. 
One of them, bolder than the rest, went to the 
Archbishop's own room at Canterbury, and there 
sat after dusk on the following evening pondering 
in sadness on his master's fortunes. When it 
was very late, he said to a boy who was with 
him, " Go and shut the outer door of the hall, 
that we may sleep more safely." The boy went 
out with a light, and saw the Archbishop sitting 
in a corner and alone ; on which he ran away 
in a fright, thinking he had seen a ghost. The 
clerk would not believe him till he came himself, 
when he found St. Thomas, who, after some 
refreshment, summoned a few of the monks of 
Canterbury, and told them the whole state of 
the case. 

The next morning some of the King's officers 
arrived to confiscate his property ; but when 
they found that he himself was there, they re- 
tired in confusion. The King was greatly relieved 
when he heard that the attempt to cross the 
Channel had not succeeded ; for he had every 
reason to fear that the result of a personal inter- 
view between St. Thomas and the Pope would 
be that the country would be placed under an 

The Archbishop once more went to Woodstock, 
where he was admitted to see the King, who 
concealed in a great measure his hostility to the 
Saint, though to St. Thomas's practised eye it 


was sufficiently evident. Of the recent attempt 
to leave England he merely said, as if in joke, 
that he need not have tried to go, as if the 
country were not large enough to hold them 
both. The interview was but short ; but the im- 
pression was left clearly enough on St. Thomas's 
mind, and expressed by him to his intimate 
friends, that the time was now arrived when he 
must either give way disgracefully, or fight the 
battle bravely. His resolution had long been 

The King summoned a full Council to as- 
semble at Northampton. It would appear that 
the Archbishop was not summoned in the usual 
way, as his dignity deserved, but as a culprit, to 
answer before the King, and even that not per- 
sonally, for the King would not write to him, 
but through the Sheriff of Kent. The pretext 
for this indignity was, that he had not appeared 
personally before the King when cited to show 
why he had not done justice in his own Court 
to John the Marshal. This man had laid a 
claim before the Archbishop to Mundeham, a 
portion of the archiepiscopal manor of Pagham.^ 
The King had previously made a law, that if in 
the process of a cause either party felt themselves 
aggrieved, they could stay all proceedings, and 

3 The result of this appeal to the King was that he alienated 
Mundeham from the Church, and thus, in 1169, we have in the 
list of persons excommunicated: "The man, other than the 
King, who holds the land of Mundeham, of the manor of Pag- 
ham, which the King took from the Church of Canterbury on 
account of John the Marshal " (Materials, vi. p. 602). 

158 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 15 

carry the cause by appeal to a higher court, if 
the party thus appeahng could take oath that 
justice was not done. Of this power the Marshal 
availed himself; but in spite of the remonstrances 
of the judges of the Archbishop's Court, he pro- 
duced from under his cloak a book of versicles 
called a tropary,'^ and on that he made his oath. 
He complained to the King that justice had been 
refused him on account of his fidelity, and ob- 
tained a summons against the Archbishop to 
appear in the King's Court on the feast of the 
Exaltation of the Holy Cross. On the day 
named the Archbishop did not appear ; but he 
sent four of his knights, bearing his own and 
the Sheriff's attestations to the invalidity of the 
appeal. The King was very angry with the 
Archbishop for not appearing in person, and he 
would hardly let his knights go free, even on 
bail. At the instance of the Marshal the Arch- 
bishop was peremptorily summoned to Nor- 
thampton, to answer, as well for the original 
cause, as for the contempt. 

On Tuesday, the 6th of October, 1164, St. 
Thomas arrived at Northampton. He was met 
on the way by some of his domestics, who told 
him that the King had permitted his lodgings 
to be occupied ; on which he despatched word 
that he would come no further, if this were not 
rectified. Henry accordingly gave the requisite 
order. St. Thomas availed himself of the hos- 

4 Tropes were versicles that were sung before the Iiitroit 
(Ducaiigc). Canon Robertson was the first to point out the ordi- 
nary mistake of calling this " a book of songs." 


pitality of the monks of St. Andrew's ; which 
monastery was then in all the f^lory of its resto- 
ration by Simon de St. Liz, the Earl of Nor- 
thampton and Huntingdon. On the day when 
he entered, the King was out hawking, so that 
they did not meet. 

On the following morning, the Saint, after his 
Mass and Hours, went to the castle, where he 
waited in the antechamber while the King heard 
Mass. On his entrance St. Thomas rose to meet 
him, and showed himself ready to receive the 
customary salutation of a kiss, if the King should 
offer it ; but he did not do so. The Archbishop's 
first request was for leave to visit the Pope, 
which was absolutely refused. He then requested 
that William de Curci might be removed from 
one of his lodgings ; to this the King assented. 
He then said that he had come to obey the 
summons in the case of John the Marshal. Henry 
replied that he w'as in London in his service in 
the Exchequer, but that he would soon appear. 
Nothing further was transacted on that day ; but 
the King bade St. Thomas return to his lodgings, 
warning him that on the following day the cause 
would be tried. 

On the second day, that is, the Thursday, 
the Council assembled. All the Bishops of 
England were there, except Rochester and an- 
other who had not yet arrived. There were 
likewise several bishops of the King's dominions 
in Normandy, besides the earls and barons. The 
Archbishop was accused of the contempt of his 
non-appearance to the King's summons m the 

l60 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 15 

case of the Marshal. The Saint's reply was, 
that his absence had been caused by illness, and 
that he had sent his knights to represent him ; 
but it was not listened to, and Henry pressed 
for judgment. The Council decided that the 
homage and observance of earthly honour, to 
which the Archbishop was sworn, had laid upon 
him the obligation to attend at the royal sum- 
mons ; and for the contempt they sentenced him 
to the confiscation of all his moveable property 
to the King's mercy. This was apparently held 
equivalent to a fine of five hundred pounds of 
silver, for thus the penalty is stated b}' other 
writers. We are told that a difficulty arose in 
pronouncing judgment between the bishops and 
the barons, both parties acquiescing in the sen- 
tence through fear of the King, yet neither wish- 
ing to bear the odium of such a proceeding. The 
barons pleaded that the spiritual order ought to 
pronounce a sentence affecting one of themselves; 
the bishops, on the other hand, replied, that it 
was altogether a secular judgment ; that they 
were not there as bishops to try their own su- 
perior, but that they sat as peers in the Council 
and the equals of the barons on the trial of a 
peer. The King began to be angry at such a 
question being mooted, and the Bishop of Win- 
chester was obliged, though much against his 
will, to pronounce the sentence. St. Thomas at 
.first thought of resisting it, as emanating from 
an incompetent tribunal ; but he was persuaded 
not to allow a mere question of money to 
stand between himself and Henry. He therefore 


offered bail for the sum, which was accepted, 
the Bishops standing his sureties, with the excep- 
tion of Gilbert Foliot, whose refusal was re- 

On the conclusion of the question of contempt, 
the case of John the Marshal was brought for- 
ward ; but whether it was that the x\rchbishop's 
statement was too strong to be answered, or 
that the King was anxious to enter into the 
more vexatious questions which he had in store, 
it is plain that it was not proceeded with. We 
are told that the Marshal lost within the year 
his two sons, whom the portion of Church pro- 
perty he aimed at would have gone to enrich, 
and that he himself soon followed them to the 
grave, which St. Thomas attributed to the anger 
of God and St. Anselm. 

Another cause was brought forward against 
the Saint on the same day. The King demanded 
the restoration of three hundred pounds, which 
the Archbishop had received from the Castelry 
of Eye and Berkhampstead. The Saint first 
pleaded that he had not been summoned to 
render any such account ; but he did not refuse 
to reply that he had spent the money in question, 
and very much more, while he was Chancellor, 
in the repairs of the Tower of London and of 
the castles in question. The King declared that 
he had not authorized any such expenditure, 
and demanded judgment; on which St. Thomas, 
still determined that money matters should be 
no pretext against him, offered as bail for the 
sum the Earl of Gloucester, William of Eynes- 


l62 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 15 

ford, and another of his feudal retainers. This 
closed the day's proceedings. 

Friday began with a new demand on the part 
of the King. He claimed repayment of five hun- 
dred marks which had been lent to St. Thomas 
during the war at Toulouse, and for other five 
hundred for which he had stood surety for him 
in a loan from a Jew.^ To this was added the 
astounding demand that he should immediately 
account for the incomes of all vacant bishoprics 
and abbacies, which had been paid into the 
Chancery while he was in office. St. Thomas 
expressed himself as totally unprepared for any 
such application, which had come upon him 
without warning, and he begged to be allowed 
to consult his suffragans and clerics. In this 
the King acquiesced. The irremediable character 
of the breach being now, however, apparent to 
all, his soldiers and military retainers, being 
anxious to retain the King's favour, deserted our 
Saint ; on which he supplied their place by the 
poor and needy, and he triumphed much in the 

Saturday was spent in consultation \\ith the 
Bishops at one time, and Abbots at another. 
The character of the demand made upon St. 
Thomas may be estimated from the fact, that it 
was accounted equivalent to the enormous sum 

5 Herbert (p. 29S) represents this day's proceedings as a 
demand for the repayment of five hundred silver pounds lent 
by Henry to St. Thomas when Chancellor. He says that, in 
spite of the danger of giving the King offence by such an act, 
five men were found willing to stand surety for the Saint, each 
for one hundred pounds. 


of thirty thousand marks. Henry of Blois, the 
Bishop of Winchester, who had consecrated him, , /' 
and who always took a Hvely interest in him, 
reminded him of the declaration of the Prince in 
the King's name at his election, that the Church 
was to receive him free from all secular obliga- 
tions ; and this the venerable Bishop could the 
better do, as he had himself at that time elicited 
the declaration. On the King's disallowing it, 
and declaring that he had been no party to any 
such liberation, and that he had never ratified 
it, and St. Thomas being reminded that all his 
moveable property had already been confiscated, 
the generous Bishop offered the King two thou- 
sand marks on his behalf; but they were refused. 
After this their consultations were much divided. 
Those who knew Henry's mind best, declared 
that he would never be satisfied until St. Thomas 
resigned the archbishopric. Hilary of Chichester, \/ 
who Nvas so inclined to favour the King, that 
St. Thomas, looking back upon these times from 
his exile, said that he had held amongst them 
the place of Judas the traitor, is reported to have 
said, " Oh, that you were only Thomas, and not 
Archbishop ! " Henry, he declared, had said 
that the kingdom should not contain him as 
king and Thomas as archbishop, and by a resig- 
nation only of his see could peace be restored. 
Others, how^ever, expressed their hopes that the 
Church would suffer no such disgrace at his 
hands ; and they were the advisers who knew 
St. Thomas best. 



1 1 64. 

Sickness of St. Thomas — Tuesday the 13th of October — rumours 
of violence — appeals to the Holy See — Mass of St. Stephen — 
the Archbishop's Cross — threats — the Bishops avoid taking 
part in a sentence — the Barons' message from the King — the 
Saint's reply — the Bishops' conduct — the Earl of Leicester's 
speech — St. Thomas's answer — insults — the Saint returns to 
the Monastery. 

Sunday was comparatively a day of rest. St. 
Thomas remained within doors, taking diHgent 
counsel with such as were best able to advise 
him, and scarcely giving himself time for refresh- 
ment. The next day was looked forward to by 
all as that on which the issue of these exciting 
proceedings would be seen. But in the middle of 
the night St. Thomas was taken ill with a violent 
pain in the side, so that to give him any relief 
they were obliged to place heated pillows where 
the pain was. This was a sickness to which the 
Saint was subject, particularly in times of unusual 
anxiety ; and it was from the natural chilliness 
of his constitution, and his liability to this inal 
de flanc, that he was accustomed always to wear 
such a very unusual quantity of clothing. The 
pain lasted through the greater part of Monday, 
and prevented him from attending the Council ; 

1164] THE FIGHT. 165 

and the King, believing the illness to be feigned, 
sent several nobles to see whether it were true. 
The Archbishop promised them, that if he were 
not better the next day, he would be carried to 
the Court in a litter rather than stay away. 
However, towards night he recovered. 

The following day, Tuesday, the 13th of Oc- 
tober, was one of great moment in the life of 
St. Thomas, in the history of the Church in 
England, and, it might be added, of the town in 
which these great events happened ; for it is 
owing to the heroism of St. Thomas on that day 
shown at Northampton, that the diocese of which 
that old town is now the see has been placed 
under his patronage. The town yet bears traces 
of its ancient devotion to St. Thomas in its hos- 
pital and its well, which bear his name ; and the 
very castle in its ruins is revered by a Catholic, 
not for its olden glories and royal pageantry, 
but because it was hallowed by the trial of St. 
Thomas. The blessed Saint cannot but look 
down with favour on the scene of the struggle, 
which he called, after St. Paul and the early 
martyrs, " fighting with beasts ; " especially since 
it has been placed under his protection by the 
Rome that he loved, by the Holy Apostolic See 
whose champion he there was. 

It was the anniversary of the solemn day^ 
when all England had assembled in Westminster 
Abbey, and St, Thomas had translated the relics 
of St, Edward the Confessor. The festival of 

I Alan (p. 330) says that it was the very day on wh'^h in 
previous century, the Normans had entered England. 

l66 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. i6 

the 13th of October is the dearer to us from the 
association of St. Thomas with the great Saint 
we then venerate, whether we think of him at 
Westminster doing honour to St. Edward, or at 
Northampton bearing his witness for the Church 
and for Christ. 

A rumour had been current that in the course 
of that day violent measures would be taken 
against his person. Some of the courtiers, who 
had an affection for him, had warned him of it ; 
and the Bishops, calling upon him ver}^ early in 
the morning, attempted to make use of this fear 
to induce the Saint to resign. They pointed out 
the certainty of his condemnation for high trea- 
son, on account of his rejection of the royal 
customs ; and they asked what use there was 
in his archbishopric when he had incurred the 
hatred of the King. His answer was character- 
istic : " Brethren, you see how the world opposes 
me ; but I mourn still more that the children of 
my Mother should fight against me. For even 
if I were to hold my peace, after ages would tell 
how you have left me alone in the contest, and 
how twice in these two days you have judged 
me, who, sinner though I be, am your Arch- 
bishop and Father. And now I gather from 
what you say, that you are ready to assist in 
passing, not a civil sentence merely, but also a 
criminal one, against me ; but I command you 
all, in virtue of your obedience and under peril 
of your order, not to be present in any judgment 
against my person. And lest 3-ou should do so, 
I appeal to our Mother the Church of Rome, the 

11G4] THE FIGHT. 167 

refuge of all the oppressed. If, as the rumour 
runs, secular hands are laid upon me, I order 
you, in virtue of obedience, to use ecclesiastical 
censure in behalf of your Father and Archbishop. 
Be sure of this, that though the world should 
roar, the enemy rise up, or the body tremble 
(for the flesh is weak), yet, by God's help, I will 
not be base enough to give way, nor to desert 
the flock intrusted to me." 

On this Gilbert Foliot immediately appealed 
to the Holy See against his precept, that they 
should use censures in case of violence being 
shown to him ; and the Bishops left, excepting 
Henry of Winchester and Jocelin of Salisbury, 
whose sympathies were altogether with the Saint, 
though they were afraid to show it. When he 
was left alone, he prepared himself for the con- 
test like a true bishop. 

He entered^ the church, and said the Mass of 
St. Stephen at the altar of the Protomartyr with 
very great solemnity and devotion. His tears so 
blinded him, that more than once he was obliged 
to break off the prayers unfinished. Two things 
were particularly noted in this Mass by the King's 
party : that he had chosen one, the Introit of 
which began with the words, " For the princes 
sat and spake against me ; " and that he cele- 

2 This was in consequence of the advice a religious, whom 
he had consulted, had given him (Rog. Pont. p. 45). Herbert 
(p. 304) suggests that perhaps the reason of his use of the pallium 
was, that it was the feast of St.Callistus, Pope and Martyr. This 
is, however, a mistake, for St. Callistus' was the following day. 
Wednesday the 14th. 

l68 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. i6 

brated, though it was not a festival, with his 
palHum, which was unusual. 

The Saint would have gone to the Court vested 
as he was, and bare-footed, if some of the Temp- 
lars with whom he was intimate had not per- 
suaded him not to do so. His wish was, he said, 
to let the Court see who he was, whom it had 
twice judged. At their urgent entreaty, he laid 
aside his mitre and pallium ; he threw his black 
cappa as a canon-regular over the sacred vest- 
ments, and, looking to the trial before him, he 
carried concealed about his person the Blessed 
Sacrament of the Altar. On the way to the castle 
he said to his cross-bearer, Alexander Llewellyn, 
that he regretted that he had not come as he at 
first proposed. When he dismounted from his 
horse, he took his cross into his own hand, and so 
entered the castle. Gilbert, the Bishop of London, 
was standing in the gateway at that moment ; 
and Hugh de Nunant, Archdeacon of Lisieux, 
who was in the Archbishop's train, said to him, 
" My lord of London, why do you suffer him to 
carry his cross ? " The Bishop answered, "Good 
man, he always was a fool, and always will be." 
/ Robert de Melun, whom he had consecrated 
Bishop of Hereford, met him as he was entering, 
and begged to be allowed to act as his cross- 
bearer ; but he would not permit it. 

The King was in an inner room. The Arch- 
bishop advanced to the council-chamber and took 
his usual place, still holding his cross. The 
Bishops surrounded him ; Gilbert Foliot being 
the nearest to him. The attention of all was 

1164] THE FIGHT. 169 

riveted upon him, when the Bishop of London 
said that he looked as if he were prepared to 
disturb the world. " You carry your cross," he 
said ; " now, if the King were to draw his sword, 
what hope would there be of peace ? " St. Thomas 
answered, " If it could be so, I should wish al- 
wa3-s to carry it in my own hands ; but I know 
what I am now doing. I would preserve God's 
peace for myself and the Church in England. 
Say, if you like, that if you were here, you would 
think otherwise. If my Lord the King were now, 
as you say, to draw his sword, it would be but 
a bad token of peace." St. Thomas was probably 
thinking, Fitzstephen tells us, of the troubles of 
the Council of Clarendon. 

The Bishops were summoned to the King, and 
remained in the inner room for a long time. The 
Archishop of York arrived late purposely, that he 
might not be identified with the King's council, 
and he had his archiepiscopal cross carried before 
him ; and this he did in virtue of a fresh appeal 
to the Pope against a prohibition which he had 
recently received from Rome. They were no 
sooner assembled than the King bitterly com- 
plained of the manner of St. Thomas's entry, 
saying, that so to bear his cross was to treat 
him as if he were not a Christian king. The 
courtiers then took up the accusation, declaring 
that he had always been vain and proud, and 
that his present act was an insult not to the 
King merely, but to the whole kingdom ; and 
the cry that he was perjured and a traitor be- 
came so loud, that it impressed with a sense of 

170 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 16 

inimincnt danger those who remained in the 
council-chamber with our Saint : so much so, 
that on some persons leaving the room where 
the King was and entering the lower room, 
St. Thomas and those who were with him imme- 
diately made the sign of the Cross. 

Herbert of Bosham sat at the Saint's feet, and 
Fitzstephen was not far from him. They each 
relate to us a few words that they interchanged 
with St. Thomas at that trying moment. The 
latter reports that Herbert bade him in a low 
voice have his sentence of excommunication 
ready, if any of them should dare to lay hands 
upon him. Fitzstephen overheard it, and ob- 
served in a little louder tone, " Far be it from 
him ; not so did the Holy Apostles and Martyrs 
of the Lord, when they were taken ; rather, if it 
should so happen, let him pray for them and 
forgive them, and possess his soul in patience. 
If he should suffer for justice sake and for the 
liberty of the Church, then, by God's grace, his 
soul would be at rest and his memory in bene- 
diction. But if he should pass sentence against 
them, all men will think that through anger and 
impatience he had done all he could to avenge 
himself." John Planeta, who was standing b}-, 
and Ralph de Diceto, then Archdeacon of London 
and afterwards Dean, the well-known historian, 
were both of them affected to tears. 

Herbert's advice was such as we should have 
expected from his impetuous disposition, as we 
see it on several occasions when he appears on 
the scene before us, and in which he resembles 


not a little the Saint his master. He tells us 
that some of the ushers with rods and wands 
passed into the room where they were, pointings 
with threatening gestures at the Archbishop and 
his companions ; on which, while the others 
crossed themselves, St. Thomas stooped down 
and said to Herbert, who was sitting at his feet, 
" I am afraid for you ; but do not be afraid for 
3'ourself, for you shall share my crown.'' Herbert 
answered, "We must neither of us fear; for you 
have raised a noble standard, by which not only 
the powers of earth but those of the air are over- 
thrown. And," he added, " remember that once 
you were the standard-bearer of the King of the 
Angles, and were never overcome : it would 
indeed be a disgrace to be overcome now when 
you are the standard-bearer of the King of the 

After a while Fitzstephen attempted to speak 
to the Saint again, but a king's marshal standing 
by prevented him ; on which, by raising his eyes 
and moving his lips, he made signs for him to 
look up at the crucifix he was carrying, and to 
occupy himself in prayer. St. Thomas under- 
stood him ; and several years afterwards, when 
he was an exile in France, he met Fitzstephen, 
then on his way to the Pope at St. Benedict's 
on the Loire (Fleury), and told him what a con- 
solation his hint had been to him. 

The Bishops were meanwhile, by the King's 
leave, taking counsel together ; for they were not 
prepared to join with the nobles in passing sen- 
tence upon their Archbishop, and yet they did 


not see how they could otherwise avoid the 
King's anger. They at length agreed to propose, 
if they were permitted to be absent from this 
judgment, to appeal to the Holy See against the 
Primate for perjury, and to pledge themselves 
not to rest until he was deposed. They told 
Henry how the Archbishop had appealed from 
their former sentences to Rome. On this the 
King sent several barons to inquire of the Saint 
whether he acknowledged this appeal ; for he 
was his liege subject, and was bound by an 
especial oath at Clarendon to his constitutions, 
in which it was enacted that Bishops should assist 
at all judgments except those of blood. They 
were also to ask whether he w'ould give bail that 
he would abide by the sentence of the Court 
regarding the accounts of his chancellorship. 

St. Thomas answered thus : " I am bound, my 
lords, to the King my liege, ^ by homage, fealty, 
and by oath : but the oath of a priest is ever 
accompanied by justice and equity. In all devout 
and due subjection, I obey the King for God's 
sake in all things saving God's obedience, the 
Church's dignity, and the honour of a Bishop in 
my person. I am not bound to give any account 
of my chancellorship, for I was summoned only 
for the cause of John the Marshal. I remember 
and acknowledge that I have received many 
dignities and ofhces from the King, in all of 
which I have served him faithfull}- on both sides 

3 "A liege lord was a lord of a free band, and his lieges were 
privileged free men, faithful to him but free from other service." 
Confused with the Latin ligatiis, bound (Skeat). 

1164] THE FIGHT. I73 

of the Channel ; and I rejoice to think that, 
after spending all my income in his service, I 
incurred debts for him also. When, by God's 
permission and the King's favour, I was chosen 
Archbishop of Canterbury, before my consecration 
I was delivered over by the King to the Church 
of Canterbury free from all secular claims ; though 
now in his anger he denies it, yet you and most 
ecclesiastics in the kingdom know it well. I call 
upon you, then, to testify to this truth to the King ; 
for it would not be safe, though it is according 
to law, for me to bring witnesses against him ; 
neither need I do it, for I am not now pleading 
my cause. If since my consecration I have not 
made the progress I could have wished, I do 
not impute it to the King or to any one else, 
but solely to m}- own sins. Yet God can give 
grace to whom and when He wills. 

" I can give no sureties for the accounts. All 
the Bishops and my friends have already been 
bound ; nor ought I to be held to find bail in a 
cause which has not been judged against me. 
As to the prohibition I have placed upon the , 
Bishops, I acknowledge that I told them that 
they had condemned me too severely for a single 
absence which was not contumacious ; and there- 
fore I appealed against them, forbidding them, 
during this appeal to judge me for a secular 
cause committed before I was Archbishop : and 
I again appeal ; and I place my person and the 
Church of Canterbury under the protection of 
God and of my Lord the Pope." 

At the close of this dignified address, the nobles 

174 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. i6 

returned to Henry in silence. Others, however, 
of his partisans were not so respectful. Some 
said, talking to one another, but loud enough 
for St. Thomas to hear, " King William, who 
conquered England, knew how to tame his 
clerics. He put in prison his own brother Odo, 
the Bishop of Bayeux, who rebelled against him. 
He cast Stigand, Archbishop of Canterbury, into 
a black dungeon. And Geoffrey Count of Anjou, 
our King's father, caused Arnulf, Bishop-elect of 
Seez, and many of his clerics to be mutilated, 
because he had counted himself as elected to 
Seez without his consent." 

When the King received St. Thomas's reply, 
he urged the Bishops by their fealty to him to 
take part in the sentence the barons were about 
to pronounce. They objected the Archbishop's 
prohibition, which Henry declared had no force 
against the express provisions of Clarendon. The 
Bishops urged that they would be placing them- 
selves in the power of the Primate, and that it 
was therefore for the good of the King and the 
kingdom that he should acquiesce in their ab- 
sence. At length he yielded ; and they entered 
the room where the Archbishop was, and took 
their places near him. Robert of Lincoln was 
weeping, and some others could hardly restrain 
their tears. 

Whilst the debate was continuing in the inner 
chamber, Roger Archbishop of York passed 
through, calling to two of his clerics who were in 
the council-chamber, Master Robert le Grand and 
Osbert de Arundel, '"'Let us go away; for we 

I164] THE FIGHT. 175 

ought not to see what will soon be done with my 
lord of Canterbury." " No," replied Master 
Robert, " I will not go till I see what God wills 
in his regard ; for if he should strive unto blood 
for God and His justice, he could not have a finer 
or better end." The Archbishop of York went 
away, and Bartholomew Bishop of Exeter fell at »/' 
St. Thomas's feet. " My father, have pity on 
yourself, have pity too on us ; for the hatred 
against you is our destruction. The King has 
just issued a decree, that whoever should take 
your side should be accounted guilty of high 
treason." It was further reported, that Jocelin 
of Salisbury and William of Norwich were to be 
mutilated for resisting the King ; and they also 
had pleaded with the Archbishop for their own 
safety. St. Thomas replied to Bartholomew : 
" Fly hence ; for you savour not the things that 
be of God." 

After the entrance of the Bishops, Hilary of 
Chichester thus addressed St. Thomas : " My 
Lord Archbishop ; saving your grace, we have 
much to complain of you. You have placed us 
your Bishops between the hammer and the anvil | / 
by this 5^our prohibition ; of disobedience to you 1/ 
on the one hand, and of the King's anger on the 
other. Lately, when we were assembled at Clar- 
endon, his highness urged upon us the observance 
of his royal dignities ; and to prevent mistake, 
they were shown to us in writing. At length we 
gave them our assent ; you in the first place, and 
afterwards we, your suffragans, at your command. 
When our Lord the King bade us swear to them, 

176 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 16 

and affix our seals, we replied that a priest's 
word was sufficient, and that we had pledged 
ourselves to observe his dignities in the word of 
truth, in good faith, without deceit, and lawfully. 
The King was therewith content. But now you 
force us to go against them by forbidding us to 
be present at a judgment when he requires it of 
us. From this oppression, and lest you should 
injure us further, we appeal to the Pope, and 
under a protest we obey your prohibition." 

St. Thomas answered : " I hear what you say, 
and, by God's help, I will attend the appeal. At 
Clarendon nothing was granted by me, or by you 
through me, but saving the honour of the Church. 
For, as you yourselves say, we added these three 
clauses, in good faith, without deceit, and lawfully, 
by which the dignities which our churches have 
by Papal law were secured. Whatever is against 
the Church or the laws of God cannot be kept in 
good faith, and lawfully ; nor has an}- Christian 
King a dignity which is the destruction of the 
Church's liberty, to which he has sworn. Besides, 
these very royal dignities our Lord the King sent 
in writing to the Pope for confirmation, by whom 
they were returned condemned. The Pope then 
taught us what to do ; for we are ready with the 
Roman Church to receive what he receives, to 
reject what he rejects. Furthermore, if we fell 
at Clarendon, for the flesh is weak, we must take 
courage, and in the strength of the Holy Ghost 
contend against the ancient enemy, who is ever 
striving to make him fall who stands, and to 
prevent him from rising who has fallen. If, then. 

1164] THE FIGHT. I77 

in the word of truth, we swore to what was 
unjust, 3'OU know that an unlawful oath is not 

The Bishops, being exempted from joining in . 

the judgment, sat apart. In a short time the > / 
barons appeared, leaving but a very few of their 
number with the King. St. Thomas was about to 
rise to them as they entered ; but Herbert whis- 
pered to him, that to receive them sitting would 
impress them with a deeper sense of the truth 
that they were judging their father, and would 
become him better who was carrying his cross. 
The Archbishop remained quiet, and gave no 
sign of fear on their drawing near. The two 
earls, Robert of Leicester and Reginald of Corn- 
wall, who had so often come to him from Henry, 
were the foremost. 

The Earl of Leicester began : " The King com- 
mands you to render up your accounts, as you 
yesterday promised to do. Otherwise hear your 
judgment." "Judgment?" said the Archbishop. 
He then rose, and continued, " Son and earl, 
hear me first. You know, my son, how intimate 
I was with our Lord the King, and how faithfully 
I served him. It therefore pleased him that I 
should be advanced to be Archbishop of the 
Church of Canterbury. God knows, I willed it 
not, for I knew my own weakness : and rather for 
the love of him than of God I gave way, which 
to-day is clear enough, when God and the King 
have both deserted me. Still, in my promotion, 
when I was elected before Henry, the King's son 
and heir, who was appointed for that purpose, the 



question was asked, How did they give me to the 
Church of Canterbury ? And the answer was, 
Free from all worldly ties. I therefore am not 
bound, nor will I plead, respecting them." " This 
is different," said the earl, "from what the Bishop 
of London told the King. But how will you 
avoid his judgment ? You are his subject, and 
have many castles and possessions in fief and 
barony." The Archbishop answered : " I have 
nothing in fief or barony ; for whatever kings 
have given to the Church, they have given as a free 
alms ; and the King himself in his privileges has 
declared and confirmed the same. Wherefore, 
by the authority and office which God's ordinance 
and the law of Christendom give me over 3-ou, 
I forbid your passing judgment upon me." The 
Earl of Leicester replied : " Far be it from me to 
transgress the command of such an authority to 
my soul's detriment ; I now hold my peace, and 
as far as I am concerned, I leave you free." He 
then turned to the Earl of Cornwall, and said to 
him, " You hear that the Archbishop in God's 
name has imposed silence upon me ; do you, 
therefore, what remains, and say what the King 
has ordered." He answered, " I will not venture 
upon what was not ordered me." The Earl of 
Leicester then said, " I beseech you, my lord, to 
wait until your answer is brought to 3-ou." " Am 
I, then, a prisoner?" St. Thomas asked. "No, 
by St. Lazarus, my lord," was the earl's answer, 
with his usual oath. The two noblemen were 
moving away, when St. Thomas added, " Son 
and earl, yet listen. By as much as the soul i? 

1164] THE FIGHT. 179 

more worthy than the body, by so much are you 
bound to obey God and me rather than your 
earthly King. Neither law nor reason permits 
children to judge and condemn their father. 
Wherefore I decline the judgment of the King 
and yours, or that of any one else ; for, under 
God, I will be judged by the Pope alone, to 
whom before you all I here appeal, placing 
the Church of Canterbury, my order, and my 
dignity, with all thereto belonging, under God's 
and his protection. And you, my brethren 
and fellow- Bishops, who have served man 
rather than God, I summon to the presence of 
the Pope ; and so, guarded by the authority of 
the Catholic Church and of the Holy See, I go 

Some of those who stood by called him per- 
jured and traitor ; on which he turned upon them 
and said, that if it were lawful, and his priestly 
orders did not forbid it, he would defend himself 
against them by appeal to arms from such 
charges. He left the council-chamber, still bear- 
ing his cross ; and as he passed through the hall, 
a multitude of people of all sorts collected there 
insulted him. In the middle of the hall was a 
quantity of firewood ; and he stumbled over a 
bundle of faggots. Randulph de Broc called out 
against him, " The traitor is going away ; " and 
he, with several others, threw straws and other 
trifles after him, raising a clamour as if the four 
quarters of the city were on fire or invaded by 
an enemy. The Earl Hamelin, the King's ille- 
gitimate brother, called the same things after 

l80 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. ^chap. i6 

him, to which he answered, " If I were a soldier,^ 
my own hands should prove you false." 

When in the court, he mounted his horse and 
proceeded to the castle-gate, which they found 
locked.'* But one of his servants, by name Peter 
de Mortorio, saw a bunch of keys hanging up ; 
and the first that was tried proved to be the right 
one. Outside the gate, when it was opened, they 
found a great multitude of people ; some suffering 
from the king's evil, who were waiting for the 

3 According to William of Canterbury (p. 39), Randulph 
received for answer, "Your cousin was hanged for his crimes, 
which has not happened to any of my relations; " and Hamelin 
was saluted by the titles, " varlet and bastard:" but Garnier 
(fol. 13, 10) says, " li sainz huem ne dist mot, mais avant s'en 
ala ; " and Grim (p. 399), in like manner, has, " nemini quicquam 
respondens ; " Fitzstephen, who was there, mentions (p. 68) the 
insults, but no such rejoinder; and Herbert (p. 310) says, "he 
turned a stern countenance upon those who were reproaching 
him, and answered, that if his priesthood did not prevent him, 
and it were allowed, he would defend himself against them in 
arms from their charges of perjury and treason. And so we 
departed from the council : the disciple who bears witness of 
these things saw them, and now writes this. He at that moment 
was the only follower the Archbishop had, as he bore his cross 
from the inner room till we reached the hall." We have followed 
Roger of Pontigny (p. 52), who perfectly agrees with Herbert. 
This Hamelin Plantagenet Count of Warrenne, after the Saint's 
martyrdom, had recourse to him giiem vocaverat in vita proditorem, 
and was cured of blindness of one eye (Will. Cant. Mirac. p. 452). 
Isabel, the sole daughter of William de Warrenne carried the 
earldoms of Warrenne in Normandy and of Surrey in England 
successively to her two husbands, William of Blois, son of King 
Stephen, and to this Hamelin, son of Geoffrey Count of Anjou, 
father of King Henry U. 

4 Garnier (fol. 13 b, 7) says, the servant's name was Trunchez, 
and both he and William of Canterbury (p. 40) inform us that 
the porter was chastising a boy. The absence of the porter they 
looked upon as providentially saving St. Thomas from imprison- 

1164] THE FIGHT. 181 

exercise of that healing power which St. Edward 
the Confessor had bequeathed to his descendants, 
and others in fear and anxiety lest he should have 
been killed. They raised a loud cry on seeing 
him : " Blessed be God, Who has saved His 
servant from the face of his enemies." Herbert 
could not find his horse in the crowd, so the 
Archbishop took him up behind him to the 
Monastery of St. Andrew. They were accom- 
panied by the poor ; and the Saint had some 
trouble to guide his horse, hold his cross, and 
give his blessing to the crowds who fell upon 
their knees as he passed. He called it, as it truly 
was, a glorious procession ; and that evening the 
poor were admitted in great numbers to dine 
with him. 



1 164. 

Return to St. Andrew's — dinner with the poor — visit of two 
J3ishops — three others sent to the King — preparation for a 
night in the church — Herbert's private orders — St. Thomas 
leaves Northampton — rides to Lincoln — by boat to the 
Hermitage — the Saint's flight made known — the King's 
letter to King Louis of France — St. Gilbert of Sempringham. 

The cross that had been borne so prominentl)' 
that day found its resting-place by the altar of 
our Blessed Lady. The Saint there prayed for 
some time ; and then rising up, he asked whether 
it were yet time for None. Learning that the 
hour was past, he sang None and Vespers, and 
then went to dinner. At the meal it was seen 
how few of his followers remained. Of a retinue 
of about forty who had come with him scared}- 
six were left ; but their place was filled b}- the 
poor, who had accompanied him rejoicing from 
the Castle. " What a glorious procession," he 
said, " has brought us from the face of the 
troubler. Let the poor of Christ come in and 
dine with us." Thus not only the refectory but 
the courts of the monastery were filled. He sat a 
long time at table, and was very cheerful. \\'illiam 
Fitzstephen said, " This has been indeed a sad 
day." " The last," St. Thomas repHed, " will be 

1164] THE FLIGHT. 183 

sadder." And then, after a while, he added the 
following saintly exhortation to his followers : 
" Dwell in silence and in peace. Let no sharp 
w^ord proceed from your mouth. If any one speal. 
against 3-ou, do not answer him ; but suffer hi: 
to speak evil of you. The superior part is tj 
suffer, the inferior so to act. We are masters 
of our own ears, as they are of their tongues. 
The evil is not spoken against me ; but against 
him who, w^hen evil is spoken, recognizes it in 

\\^hen the King was informed, it was be- 
lieved by the Bishop of Hereford, as St. Thomas 
was leaving the castle, that the courtiers were 
saying and doing things insulting to him, he 
ordered proclamation to be made through the 
streets, that no insult should be offered to him, 
nor am" of his followers be in any way interfered 
with. It does not seem unnatural to suppose 
that the King was anxious that these insults, 
though doubtless pleasing to him, as his own 
conduct towards the Saint sufficiently shows, 
should not be attributed to himself; for this he 
knew would be a strong presumptive argument 
against him in the eyes of the Pope and of all 

While the Saint was still at table, the leaders 
amongst the Bishops of the opposition to him 
and of subserviency to the King, Gilbert of 
London and Hilary of Chichester, came to him 
to say that they had found out a conciliatory 
course. They urged that it was but a money 
question between him and the King. If, then, 

184 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 17 

he would leave for a time two of his manors, 
Otford and Mundeham, in the King's hands as a 
pledge or surety, they thought that he would not 
retain them, nor urge his claim for the money, 
and would restore the Archbishop to favour. 
\ The Saint answered, " Heccham, I am told, was 
once a manor of the Church of Canterbury ; and 
the King now retains possession of it. I have, 
then, a claim to its restitution ; though under 
these circumstances it is more than I can hope 
for. Nevertheless, sooner than resign the ancient 
rights of the Church of Canterbury over even 
that manor to the King, to put an end to my 
troubles or to recover his favour, I would undergo 
any danger, or even death." And so saying, he 
laid his hand upon his head. Did he already 
know where his death-wound would be inflicted ? 
The two Bishops went to Henry, and reported to 
him what the Archbishop had said, and thus 
increased his anger against the Saint. These 
false brethren must have known what St. Thomas 
would answer ; and their use of what he had 
replied proves that their wish for reconciliation 
was feigned, and that they really strove to urge 
matters to extremities. 

During their meal the book that was read 
aloud was the Tripartite History on the persecu- 
tion of Liberius ; and when the text happened to 
be quoted, " When they persecute you in one 
city, fly to another," St. Thomas raised his eyes, 
and meeting those of Herbert, his flight was 
understood between them, though no word was 
uttered by either. Before he left the table, he 

11G4] THE FLIGHT. 185 

ordered his bed to be carried into the church, 
and placed behind the high altar ; which was 
done before them all. They sat until nightfall, 
when, after grace, St. Thomas sent the three 
Bishops, Roger of Worcester and Robert of 
Hereford, whom he had consecrated, together 
with Walter of Rochester, his chaplain, to the 
King, to request leave to depart on the morrow, 
and a safe-conduct to enable him to visit the 
Pope. They found Henry in high spirits, but he 
refused to give any answer until the following 
day. This reply was considered to be ominous 
of danger ; and the impression was confirmed by 
secret messages from some of the King's privy- 

We are told that the Saint had spent one of 
the former nights in the church in vigil and 
prayer with his clerics, taking the discipline^ and 
genuflecting at the name of each Saint in the 
Litany. Some of them, thinking that he was 
about to repeat this pious exercise, asked leave to 
watch with him. He said : " No, I would not 
have you troubled." His chamberlain, by name 
Osbern, was placed to prevent any one coming 
to that part of the church, his instructions being 
to say that the Archbishop was fatigued with his 
day's work and was not to be disturbed ; and 
when the monks came to sing Compline, they did 
so in a low voice, believing him to be asleep 
behind the high altar. The Saint took into his 
confidence two lay-brothers who were in his 
train, named Robert de Cave and Scailman, and 
I Facta afflictione : Fitzstephen, p. 69. 

l86 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 17 

a faithful domestic of his own called Roger de 
Brai,^ and bade them prepare what was neces- 
sary for his departure. Lest suspicion should be 
excited, he directed them not to take any of his 
own horses, but to procure others for their use. 
These men performed their part well ; and four 
good horses were kept in waiting outside the 
monastery-gate, as if they belonged to strangers 
who were visiting within. 

The Litanies were said, and a genuflection 
made at each saint's name ; and then St. Thomas 
gave his parting instructions to his faithful Her- 
bert. He was to go to Canterbury ; and after 
collecting what he could of the Archbishop's 
income, to make the best of his way to St. Omer 
in Flanders, and await the Saint's arrival at the 
famous Monastery of St. Bertin ; for thither he 
proposed to go, if capture or death did not 
prevent him. Herbert mentions with emotion 
that the Saint gave into his particular charge a 
book for which he had an affection, for fear lest, 
when his property was rifled, as he might expect 
after his departure, it might be lost : showing 
what he valued most of all the precious and 
magnificent things by which he was surrounded 
when in state. Poor Herbert was thus, to his 
distress, left behind, and separated from his 
beloved master. 

The night was dark and rain was heavilv fall- 

2 Garnier (fol. 14 b, 10) calls Roger de Brai " un brun, un 
prode bachelor." Perhaps he is the same person as "Brun son 
vaslet " (fol. 46 b, 1. 13), who used to wash his hair-shirts for 
him. Brother Scailman was subsequently imprisoned, but made 
his escape {Materials, vi. p. 77). 

1164] THE FLIGHT. 187 

ing, SO that every one was within doors, and 
objects could with difficulty be distinguished. 
Guards had been set, as they had previously 
ascertained, at all the gates of the town except 
the north gate, which, as it happened, was the 
nearest to St. Andrew's ; and, availing them- 
selves of the oversight, St. Thomas, with his 
three companions, quietly passed through the 
streets of Northampton. His last preparation 
had been to take off his stole, which he had 
constantly w^orn since his consecration ; and he 
took nothing with him except his pallium and 
his archiepiscopal seal. He wore his usual black 
cappa, and his hair-shirt next to his skin was 
his armour. In the course of that night's ride, 
the cappa became so heavy with the wet, that 
twice he had a piece cut off to make it lighter. 
By morning he reached a village on the Lincoln 
road called Graham (perhaps Grantham), about 
five-and-twenty miles from Northampton and half 
way to Lincoln. He here was able to sleep a little; 
and after this rest he pushed on the remaining 
distance to Lincoln. He lodged with a fuller of 
the name of Jacob; and here he changed his dress 
for that of a lay-brother, and determined to pass 
by the name of Brother Christian.- Two of his 
companions were Brothers of the Order of the 
Canons Regular of St. Gilbert of Sempringham, . 
commonl}' called Gilbertines, which accounts for 
his taking refuge almost exclusively in their mo- 
nasteries. Taking boat on the river which passes 

2 So Roger of Pontigny. Grim says that he was called Brother 
Dermann , 

l88 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 17 

throu.c^h Lincoln, he reached a sohtary place in 
the midst of the waters called the Hermitage, 
belonging to the nuns of the Order of Sempring- 
ham. This was a distance of some forty miles 
by water. As the place was one where he was 
very safe from pursuit, he remained there for 
three days. The faithful lay-brother was once 
so overcome by seeing the Archbishop sitting at 
his solitary meal of a few herbs, that he was 
obliged to leave him for a while, lest his tears 
should distress the Saint. Robert de Cave alone 
had accompanied him, Scailman and Roger 
having been sent by land from Lincoln to Sem- 
pringham ; but they rejoined him later. 

It is now time that we should return for a 
few minutes to Northampton, before we follow 
St. Thomas on his further wanderings. One of his 
companions, whom he had left behind, an,d who 
knew nothing of his intended flight, afterwards 
told Herbert and others that he had that night 
a dream in which he heard a voice sing those 
verses of the Psalm, " Our soul has escaped like 
a sparrow from the snare of the fowlers ; our 
snare is broken, and we are delivered." The 
story is worth repeating from the pleasure it 
affords us to introduce the words of that text. 

In the morning, the Bishop of Winchester, 
unconscious of what had taken place, came to 
speak with the Saint. On his inquiring of 
Osbern, the Chamberlain, how the Archbishop 
was, he received for answer: "He is well; for 
last night he left us, and is gone wc know not 
where." With a deep sigh, and tears in his 

11G4] THE FLIGHT. 189 

eyes, the venerable Bishop said, " And God's 
blessing go ^vith him ! '" When the flight first 
came to the King's ears, he was silent through 
anger; and at length he said, "We have not 
yet done with him:" and he then gave special 
directions that all the ports should be carefully 
guarded, to prevent his leaving the kingdom. A 
council was then held ; and it was determined 
that, in order that his flight might seem to have 
been unnecessary, and only done to irritate the 
King, ail the Archbishop's possessions should be 
secured unmolested, and none of his officials be 
removed during the appeal. The Bishops, who 
had already pledged themselves to Henry to 
carry on the appeal before the Pope, were or- 
dered to get ready ; and the following were 
selected for the journey : Roger the Archbishop 
of York, Gilbert Bishop of London, Roger of 
Worcester, Hilary of Chichester, and Bartholo- 
mew of Exeter. To their party were added 
Richard of Ilchester, John of Oxford, and Guy 
Rufus, all ecclesiastics ; and amongst the laymen, 
William Earl of Arundel, Hugh of Gondreville, 
Reginald of St. Valery, and Henry Fitzgerald, a 
royal favourite. Henry gave them letters to Louis 
King of France, and to Philip Count of Flanders, 
begging them not to receive into their kingdoms 
a traitor, who had fled from his country, Thomas, 
the late Archbishop of Canterbur}-. 

Henry had yet to learn that it did not come 
within his royal prerogatives to unmake an Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury at will. Nothing could be 
more instructive, or throw more light on the 


cause for which St. Thomas died, than this 
exphcit statement that he was a traitor and that 
he had been tried and found j^uilty of treason. 
As far as we are acquainted with the proceedings 
of the Council of Northampton, no accusation 
was brought against St. Thomas that could 
be construed as treasonable in the slightest 
degree. The only accusation, that did not resolve 
itself into a mere money claim, was contempt by 
non-appearance at a royal summons, when John 
the Marshal appealed from the Archbishop to the 
King. The treason, and the only treason, in the 
case was the refusal of St. Thomas to acquiesce 
in the Constitutions of Clarendon. This was the 
cause of the anger of the King, who could not 
bear that any one should stand between him and 
any claim he might choose to make. St. Thomas 
was the official guardian of the King's coronation 
oath ; and his sole treason, the punishment of 
which fell upon him seven years later, was the 
courage with which he withstood a tyrannical 
usurpation, and appealed to the Holy See in 
defence of the rights of the Church. 

Our acquaintance with Henry's letter to Louis 
is due to a French source,^ for it has not been 
preserved in any English collection of letters. It 
will be w^ell to give it in full, as its terms are a 
perfect justification of the flight of St. Thomas. 
"To his lord and friend Louis, the illustrious 
King of France, Henry, King of England, Duke 
of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, 

3 Matcyiiih, v. p, 134, taken from GiiUicaruin Rcinm Sci'iptoi-es, 
Ed. Brial, vol. xvi. 107, 


greeting and affection. Know that Thomas, who 
was Archbishop of Canterbury, has been pubHcly 
judged in my Court in a full Council of the 
barons of my kingdom to be a wicked and per- 
jured traitor against me, and under the manifest 
name of a traitor has wrongfully departed, as my 
messengers will more fully tell you. Wherefore I 
pray you that you do not permit a man infamous 
for such great crimes and treasons, nor his men, 
to be in your kingdom. Let not this great enemy 
of mine, if you please, receive from you or yours 
any help or counsel ; for to your enemies in my 
kingdom neither I nor my land would give any. 
Rather, if you please, efficaciously help me to 
avenge my dishonour on my great enemy, and 
aid me to seek my honour, as you would wish me, 
if needs were, to do to you. Witness, Robert 
Earl of Leicester at Northampton." We may 
now turn from these angry words to pleasanter 

It is ever delightful to be able to connect the 
memories of Saints together ; and the following 
account of St. Gilbert of Sempringham deserves 
its place in the history of St. Thomas. After the 
flight of the Archbishop, it soon became bruited 
abroad that houses of the Gilbertine Order had 
given him refuge ; for it was, as he himself tells 
St. Gilbert,-* the religious order that he preferred 
above all others. St. Gilbert, then in his seventy- 
third year, was cited before the King's justiciars, 
and accused of having sent a sum of money to 
the assistance of St. Thomas in his need. Fear- 

4 Materials, v. p. 2G1 

192 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 17 

ful punishments had been decreed against all 
who had dared to abci the traitor ; and St. Gilbert 
had but a sorry prospect if he were found guilty. 
The judges, probably moved by the universal 
respect in which the aged founder of the Order 
of Sempringham was held, and by the fame of 
his sanctity, offered him an immediate release 
from all proceedings, if he would but swear that 
the accusation was untrue. This he absolutely 
refused to do ; but when he was ultimately re- 
leased, he voluntarily declared that truly the case 
was so, but that to have taken the oath required 
of him, would have been to have created an 
impression that he thought it wrong to act in 
the way that had been laid to his charge. This 
great Saint lived to hear of the martyrdom and 
canonization of the Archbishop, in whose holy 
cause he so sympathized ; and he went to join 
him in Heaven, after he had spent a century of 
holy years on earth. 



1 164. 

From the Hermitage, by Boston, Haverholme and Chicksand to 
Eastry — the Saint hears Mass in concealment — embarks at 
Sandwich and lands near GraveHnes — adventures — is recog- 
nized — goes to Clairmarais — Herbert arives from Canterbury 
— the King's party pass — St. Thomas goes to Eldemenstre 
and to St. Bertin's — interview with Richard de Luci — the 
Saint escapes from the Count of Flanders by the help of the 
Bishop of Therouanne — he reaches Soissons — -Louis receives 
Henry's letter and St. Thomas's envoys. 

When St. Thomas left the Hermitage, he went 
to St. Botolf's (Boston), which was ten miles off; 
and thence by water to Haverolot (Haverholme), 
a place also belonging to the Canonesses of St. 
Gilbert. He now directed his course towards 
Kent ; and as he would henceforward be passing 
amongst people who were likely to be acquainted 
with his personal appearance, he only travelled 
by night. He stopped at Chicksand, in Bedford- 
shire, on his way southwards. This was another 
house of Gilbertine Canons ; and one of them, 
of the name of Gilbert, he added to his party. 
This resting-place of our Saint had a celebrity in 
after times, and the miracles there wrought were 
a testimony of Whose cause it was for which 
St. Thomas was a wanderer. At length he 


194 ST. THOMAS OF CANTllRBURY. ^chap. lb 

reached a village belonging to his see, named 
Eastry, close to Sandwich, and about eight miles 
from Canterbury. Here he was lodged in the 
priest's house, from which a little window opened 
into the church ; and here he assisted at Mass 
without the knowledge of the people or even of 
the priest who celebrated. A cleric, who had 
been trusted with the secret, brought the Pax, 
or kiss of peace, to him from the altar. It would 
have been affecting to see the devotion with 
which, from his place of concealment, the Saint 
gave his episcopal benediction at the end of 
Mass to the faithful, who were unconscious of 
his presence. 

On All Souls' Day, Monday, the 2nd of No- 
vember,' nearly three weeks after the memorable 
Tuesday at Northampton, a little before day- 
break, St. Thomas embarked at Sandwich, on 
board a small boat which had been prepared 
for him by the priest who had given him shelter ; 
and two priests undertook the labour of rowing 
him across the Channel, with a few others who, 
John of Salisbury says, did more harm than good. 
The very same day the Bishops and other 
messengers from the King also embarked. The 
weather was very stormy, and our Saint must 
have been in great peril in his open boat ; for the 
ship that carried the Bishops was in such danger 

I Herbert (p. 326) has here made another mistake in the dates. 
He says, that St. Thomas crossed on Tuesda)', November 2nd. 
being the fifteenth day from his departure from Northampton. 
Fitzstephen (p. 70) corroborates Herbert in saying that it was 
yMl Souls' Day. This withdraws one from the list of the critical 
Tuesdays of our Saint's life. 

1 164] EXILE, 195 

that the Bishop of London had taken off his 
cappa and cowl throu^s^h fear of shipwreck. St. 
Thomas landed towards evening, on the sand at 
low' water, at a part of the coast called Oye- in 
Boulogne, about a league distant from Gravelines, 
which seaport town they now made for, as best 
they could. They went on foot ; until at length 
the Saint, who was unaccustomed to the heavy 
dress and shoes of a lay-brother which he w'ore, 
and who was wearied out by the roughness ^ of 
the passage, lay down on the ground, and de- 
clared that he could go no farther unless they 
carried him or found him something to ride upon. 
After some seeking, they at length found a boy, 
whom they begged to go and hire a beast. He 
went to the nearest village ; but remained away so 
long, that they were much frightened lest he should 
have given some notice which should betray them. 
The Saint had, however, fallen several times, and 
his hands were bleeding, so that they were obliged 
to await the result. At length the boy returned, 
leading by a straw halter an ass without a saddle, 
which they were glad to hire for a piece of silver. 
They threw a cloak over the animal, and thus 
St. Thomas rode for about two miles : he then 
found it easier to walk. In passing through a 
village, a woman who saw him was much struck 

2 See Note F. 

3 Herbert (p. 325) is not consistent with himself, when, a little 
later on (p. 330), he says that though the King's envoys in their 
ship had a rough and dangerous passage, those who crossed with 
St. Thomas told him that they in their boat had had a calm sea. 
They must have meant that it was a wonder that in such 
weather they could have crossed in an open boat at all. 

196 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 18 

with something unusually noble in the expression 
of his face ; and seeing his fatigue, she ran into 
her house to find a stick to offer him. Finding 
nothing at the moment but one which had been 
used as a spit and on which fish had been hung, 
and the state of which betrayed the uses to which 
it had been put, she ran out and offered it to 
him : and he thanked her for it earnestly with 
all gratitude. A little further on, a knot of young 
men were standing together, one of whom had a 
hawk on his hand. St. Thomas forgot for a 
moment where he was ; and looking at the bird 
with his old manner, drew forth the exclamation 
from one of them, " If I am not mistaken, that 
is the Archbishop of Canterbury ! "' Brother 
Scailman promptly answered him, " Did you 
ever see the Archbishop of Canterbury travelling 
in that fashion?" The fright, one of his bio- 
graphers observes, was probably satisfaction 
enough for the momentary vanity. 

At the house where he slept on the Monday 
night in Gravelines, he sat at the meal with the 
three Gilbertine brothers in the lowest place, and 
was called by his companions Brother Christian. 
The host, however, noticed a practice which we 
have already recorded of him as Archbishop, that 
of sending to others portions of what was set 
before him. From his platter, he gave some food 
to the children and to the people of the house ; 
which caused the host to look at him narrowh'. 
He could not help noticing his great height, his 
broad and calm forehead, and particukirl)- his 
long and beautiful hands. It had already been 

1164] EXILE. 197 

rumoured thereabouts that the Archbishop of 
Canterbury had fled from Northampton ; he 
therefore called his wife, and told her his sus- 
picions. She no sooner had heard it than she 
ran in ; and after looking at him for a while, she 
went to her husband, smiling and saying, " Cer- 
tainly, good man, it is he." The good hostess 
then became very zealous, bringing her nuts and 
apples and cheese, and placing them before 
Brother Christian. Poor Brother Christian 
would gladly have dispensed with these kind 
attentions ; but she was indefatigable. 

After supper the host drew near, all smiles. 
Brother Christian asked him to sit down by him 
on the bench ; but he refused, and sat on the 
floor at his feet. After a little, he said, " My 
lord, I give God thanks that you have come 
under my roof." Brother Christian replied, 
" Why, who am I ? Am I not a poor Brother, 
and am I not called Christian?" "I know," 
replied the host, "that, whatever you are called, 
you are a great man, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury." St. Thomas no longer concealed himself; 
but starting early the next day, to keep his host 
from talking about him and so betraying him, 
he took him part of the way with them to 
Clairmarais, a Cistercian monastery near St. 
Omer. This journey was made on foot, and the 
roads in winter time were very muddy and slip- 
pery. He arrived at Clairmarais about nightfall, 
and by the computation of the people of the 
place, he had walked that day about twelve 

198 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 18 

The cause of all these precautions was the 
hostility of the Count of Flanders. The King of 
England had been a party some years before to 
a sacrilegious marriage between Matthew Count 
of Boulogne, the brother of this Philip Count 
of Flanders, and Mary of Blois, daughter of the 
late King Stephen, who was Abbess of Romsey. 
St. Thomas, when he was Chancellor, had op- 
posed this marriage ; and the dislike for him 
which the Count had then conceived was quite 
reason sufficient to render it necessary for him 
to remain concealed. And besides, King Henry 
had sent Count Philip, his kinsman, a letter 
against St. Thomas couched in the terms that he 
used in writing to the King of France. 

Herbert of Bosham, with some others of the 
Saint's followers, had obeyed the directions he 
had given before leaving Northampton ; and had 
now been awaiting him for four or five days at 
the neighbouring monastery of St. Bertin in the 
outskirts of the town of St. Omer. The very night 
of his arrival, Herbert came to Clairmarais to see 
his master ; and his delight at meeting him was 
tempered by his compassion for the toils and 
perils he had undergone. St. Thomas recounted 
to him how he had travelled by night and on 
foot ; how he had put on the habit of a lay- 
brother, in which he saw him ; and all that had 
befallen him under the name of Brother Chris- 
tian. On Herbert's showing himself much 
moved by the change of his master's circum- 
stances, St. Thomas answered : " If we have 
received good from the hand of the Lord, why 

1164] EXILE. igg 

should we not receive evil?" This brought to 
Herbert's mind the text, " The just man will 
never be sorrowful, let what may happen to him." 
Their conversation must have been not without 
its share of amusement when St. Thomas re- 
counted to his faithful friend his adventure the 
night before with his host and hostess. Herbert's 
account of the way in which he had been able 
to fulfil the commission intrusted to him was 
very brief. The King's order, issued with an 
intent to injure the Saint, had been productive 
of good ; for if the proclamation had not been 
made that his goods and followers were not to 
be molested, Herbert would not have been able 
to leave the country or to bring anything with 
him. As it was, he had succeeded in bringing 
a few silver vessels and a hundred marks in 
money ; a sufficiently scanty supply for an exile 
of indefinite duration. St. Thomas was, however, 
very thankful for this assistance, and hopeful for 
the future. 

The King's party arrived at St. Omer on the 
same day with the Saint ; and as it was publicly 
known that St. Thomas was expected at the 
Monastery of Clairmarais, it was thought better 
that he should not remain there, lest, if his 
enemies came, they might find in his fallen state 
matter for exultation. Accordingly, after Matins 
that very night, he took boat, and was conveyed 
to a solitary place surrounded by marshland 
called Eldemenstre,-^ which was venerated as 
having once been a hermitage of St. Bertin. 

4 See Note F. 

200 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, ib 

Towards morning, as they were going, one of 
his party said to him, " My lord, you are weary 
with travelHng, and we are coming to most hos- 
pitable people, who will rejoice over your escape ; 
do them the favour, on your arrival, of allowing 
them to break the abstinence." " No," said the 
Archbishop, " to-day is Wednesday and we must 
abstain." " But, my lord," the other still urged, 
** we must not put them to trouble, and perhaps 
they have no supply of fish." " That is for God 
to provide," said St. Thomas ; and as he said the 
words, a great fish — it was a bream — leapt into 
the Saint's lap ; which incident made them very 
merry till they reached their destination.^ He 
remained at the hermitage for three days ; and 
on the fourth, at the pressing invitation of Gode- 
schall, the Abbot of St. Bertin's, he took up his 
abode in that monastery. 

Meanwhile apparently Richard de Luci had 
been separated from the rest of the royal party, 
and had been sent with the King's letter to the 
Count of Flanders. On his return he visited the 
Archbishop, and tried every argument to induce 
him to return with him to England. Finding 
his persuasions without eifect, he tried threats. 
St. Thomas stopped him, saying, " You are my 
man, and ought not to speak to me so." Richard 
retorted, "I give you back my homage:" to 
which the Saint said, " You never borrowed it 
from me." 

5 Alan (p. 336) who tells this story, assigns it to the journey 
from the hermitage to St. Bertin's, but that could not have been 
on the Wednesday. 

1164] EXILE. 201 

After this St. Thomas sent two abbots to the 
Count of Flanders, to request a safe-conduct 
and free passage through his territory. The 
Count sent word that he would take counsel 
upon the matter, and added that he had 
power enough to keep an archbishop within his 
dominions.^ Milo, the Bishop of Therouanne, an 
Englishman by birth, coming on a visit to St. 
Thomas, the Saint consulted with him what had 
better be done on this ominous answer. They 
purposely protracted their interview until night ; 
and when it was dark the Bishop rose as if to 
leave, the Archbishop accompanying him to the 
door with torches. St. Thomas then ordered the 
lights to be taken away, as if he had a few more 
words to say in secret to the Bishop ; and as 
soon as the attendants were gone, he mounted 
a white horse which the Bishop had had prepared, 
and they rode away together to the Bishop's 
cathedral city, where they arrived that night. 
The next day, accompanied by the Bishop of 
Therouanne and the Abbot of St. Bertin's, he 
safely reached Soissons, where he had previously 
bidden his followers rejoin him. He was thus safe 
from the Count of Flanders, and within the terri- 
tory of the King of France. 

The remainder of the King's party, on the day 
after their arrival at St. Omer, carried Henry's 

6 It is strange that Fitzstephen (p. 71) should say that the 
Count promised him all he desired, and liberally provided him 
with horses, clothes, and other requisites. The Count of Flan- 
ders had certainly received John of Salisbury with promises of 
help some months before this (Materials, v. p. 96). 

202 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. i8 

letter to Louis, whom, after three or four days' 
travel, they found at the royal castle of Com- 
piegne. On reading the phrase, Thomas the late 
Archbishop of Canterbury, King Louis demanded 
of them again and again who had deposed him. 
At length he said, "Truly I am as much a king 
as the King of England ; yet I could not depose 
the very least of the clerics of my kingdom." 
St. Thomas had despatched Herbert and another 
trustworthy person of his suite to follow the 
King's messengers diligently, travelling always at 
the distance of a day's journey from them, so 
that accurate information might be had of all 
their proceedings. Consequently, on the day 
after the departure of the King's Bishops, Her- 
bert and his companion reached Compiegne. 
They were admitted to an immediate audience ; 
and when Louis learnt that they formed part of 
the Archbishop's household, he kissed them and 
received them very graciously and kindly. The 
relation of all that St. Thomas had undergone 
moved him very much, the more that he had 
formed a friendship for him when he was Chan- 
cellor. Louis then told them the purport of the 
King of England's letter, and what answer he 
had given to it. He added, " Before King Henry 
had so hardly treated so great a friend of his 
and a person of such station as the Archbishop, 
he should have remembered the verse, ' Be ye 
angry and sin not.' " Herbert's companion 
amused the King by answering, " My lord, per- 
haps he would have remembered it if he had 
heard it as often as we do in the canonical 

1164] EXILE. 203 

hours." The next morning, before their depar- 
ture, the King had taken counsel with those 
about him, and promised the Archbishop security 
and protection in his kingdom, declaring that it 
was an ancient glory of the Crown of France to 
protect and defend exiles, and especially church- 
men, from all persecution. Herbert and his 
companion, much delighted with their perfect 
success, did not pause to send the Archbishop 
word of the refuge that was open to him ; but, 
according to their instructions, hastened on after 
King Henry's messengers ; and they reached 
Sens, where Pope Alexander III. was staying, 
on the day after their opponents. 



1 164. 

King Louis sympathizes with St. Thomas — the envoys on both 
sides see the Pope — the pubHc audience of King Henry's 
ambassadors — they leave Sens, and St, Thomas arrives — he 
is received by the Pope, and after three weeks spent at Sens, 
he retires to Pontigny. 

The messengers of the King of England had 
urged Louis to write to the Holy Father in their 
favour, trying to persuade him to take part 
against the Archbishop by some very unworthy 
motives, as, that he now had in his power the man 
who in the war of Toulouse had acted with such 
vigour and effect against him. So far from acqui- 
escing in their request, he called Brother Franco, 
the Pope's Chamberlain, who was staying with him 
at Compiegne, and charged him with a message 
to the Holy Father in favour of St. Thomas. In 
fact, the sympathy for the cause of the exiled 
Primate was there so widespread, where King 
Henry had no power to repress and counteract 
it, that the English Bishops and other nobles 
who were on their way to the Pope considered it 
unsafe to proceed openly ; so they put William 
de Albini, the Earl of Arundel, into the chief 
place, and all the others rode as if they were 

I164] THE POPE. 205 

members of his household and train. On the 
day after their arrival at Sens, Herbert and his 
companion reached it also ; and on that very 
evening they had an audience of Pope Alexander. 
They related to the Holy Father, with all devo- 
tion and humility, in the Archbishop's name all 
that he had undergone during and since the 
Council of Northampton ; and the Pope's fatherly 
and compassionate heart was so moved, that he 
said with tears, " Your lord is yet alive, you tell 
me ; he can, then, while still in the flesh, claim 
the privilege of martyrdom." As they were very 
weary, the Pope soon dismissed them with his 
apostolic benediction much consoled. 

On the following day the Holy Father held a 
Consistory of Cardinals, to give public audience 
to the Ambassadors of the King of England. 
Herbert and his companion were also present. 
Gilbert Foliot, the Bishop of London, was the 
first to speak. "Father," he said, "the care of 
the whole Catholic Church is yours : those who 
are wise, your prudence directs and strengthens ; 
those who are unwise, your apostolic authority 
corrects. Your wisdom will never account him 
to be wise who trusts to his own wisdom, while 
he overthrows the concord of his brethren, the 
peace of a kingdom, and the devotion of a king. 
Not long since a difference arose between the 
State and the priesthood ; the occasion was un- 
important, and a little moderation would have 
checked it all. But my lord of Canterbury, 
trusting to his own private opinion and neglect- 
ing our counsel, has urged matters unnecessarily 

206 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 19 

far, without considering the maHce of the times 
or the harm that might come of it ; and thus he 
has entangled himself and his brethren. And if 
we had given our assent, matters would have 
become w^orse. But w^hen we withheld it, as we 
were bound to do, for him to persist was to cast 
a reproach upon the King, upon ourselves, and, 
I might say, upon the whole kingdom. And, as 
if to heap infamy upon us, without any violence 
having been shown to him or a threat used 
against him, he fled ; even as it is written, ' The 
wicked man flieth when no man pursueth.' " 
The Pope interrupted the speaker : " Spare, 
brother." " Shall I spare him, my lord ? " said 
the Bishop. The Holy Father continued : 
" Brother, I did not say spare him, but spare 
thyself." At this rebuke Gilbert was so discom- 
fited as to be unable to proceed. 

Hilary of Chichester, who w'as renowned as a 
good speaker, then began: "My Lord and Father, 
your blessedness is ever careful to restore to a 
state of peace and concord whatever has been 
wrongfully done to the harm of many, lest one 
man's immoderate presumption should destroy 
many, and create a schism in the Catholic 
Church. To this point his lordship of Canter- 
bury has been inattentive, when he left the 
mature counsels of others to bring trouble and 
anxiety upon himself and his followers, the King 
and his kingdom, the clergy and people. Such a 
course a man of such authority oiif^hi never to 
have followed." In this last sentence Hilary used 
the word oporiiicbat, and he repeated it in the 

1164] THE POPE. 207 

next ; adding to his error by treating it as a 
personal verb. " Neither ought his followers to 
have joined with him, if they had been wise." 
This repetition of his mistake caused a general 
laugh ; and one of the bystanders saying, in allu- 
sion to the sound of the word he had used, "You 
have come to a bad port,'" he suddenly broke off 
his speech. 

The Archbishop of York was more careful. 
" Father, no one can be better acquainted with 
my Lord of Canterbury than myself. From the 
beginning I have known that it was his nature 
never to leave an opinion which he had once 
formed. It is therefore easy to believe that his 
present obstinacy rests on insufficient grounds. 
The only remedy for this that I can think of is, 
that your discretion should lay a heavy hand 
upon him. I will detain your Holiness no longer." 

The Bishop of Exeter followed. " Father, it is 
not necessary for me to say much. This is a 
cause which can never be terminated in the 
absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We 
therefore beg that you will send legates to 
England to hear and adjudge this cause between 
the Archbishop and the King." After this the 
Bishops sat in silence. 

The Earl of Arundel was standing amongst 
the soldiers ; and when he found that no one else 
was willing to speak, he asked a hearing. He 
thus began in his Norman-French : " My lord, we 
unlearned people know nothing of what the 
Bishops have said. We must therefore say, as 
well as we can, why we have been sent. It is not 

208 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, ig 

that we should contend with nor insult any one, 
especially in the presence of so great a man, to 
whose authority all the world rightfully bows ; 
but that in your presence, and in that of the 
whole Roman Church, we might present to you 
the devotion and love which our Lord the King 
ever has borne and still bears towards you. By 
whom, I ask, does he represent it ? By the 
greatest and noblest of his dominions ; by arch- 
bishops and bishops, by earls and barons : and if 
he had any greater and nobler than they, he 
would have sent them to testify his reverence for 
you and the Holy Roman Church. To this we 
may add, that when your Holiness was but newly 
promoted, you experienced his fidelity and devo- 
tion in the way in which he placed himself and 
all he had at your service ; and we firmly believe, 
that in the unity of the Catholic Church over 
which you rule, one more faithful than he could 
not be found, nor one more anxious to preserve 
peace. Nevertheless my Lord the Archbishop of 
Canterbury is equally perfect in his own degree 
and order, prudent and discreet in the matters 
which concern him, but, some people think, too 
sharp. Now unless there were this dissension 
between the King and the Archbishop, the State 
and the priesthood would both rejoice in a good 
King and an excellent Prelate. This is what we 
petition, that your Holiness would do all that can 
be done to remove this dissension, and to restore 
peace and tranquiUity." The earl's moderate 
speech was very well received, and produced a 
favourable impression. 

1164] THE POPE. 209 

The royal ambassadors urged their King's 
request that St. Thomas might be sent back into 
England, and that one or two Cardinals might be 
deputed with full legatine powers to adjudge the 
whole matter on the spot. Henry felt, and truly, 
that while the Archbishop was out of his do- 
minions his cause had nothing but its own merits 
to trust to. His wish to have St. Thomas once 
more in his power, and the hope that the choice 
of the Cardinal to fill the office of Legate might 
fall on some member of the Sacred College who 
was favourable to himself; or if this were not the 
case, that bribery and the other thousand arts in 
which a Court is practised might help forward the 
result,^ were motives sufficient to induce him to 
urge this measure. The Pope represented that 
the Archbishop himself was not now far off; and 
that if the King's representatives would but wait 
for his coming, the cause could be tried by him- 
self in person. The Bishops replied that their 
instructions were imperative, and that they were 
bound to depart with their answer in three days' 
time, without waiting for the Archbishop. The 
Pope was very unwilling to delegate judges in 
the matter from whom no appeal should lie to 
himself; "this," he said, "is my glory, which I 

1 It is said, that an offer was made to the Pope, if he would 
depose St. Thomas, not only that Peter-pence, which were now 
diverted into the Treasury, should be paid, but that they should 
for the future be exacted, and confirmed by the King for ever, 
from every inhabitant of the country — "from every house from 
which smoke ascends, in cities, towns, boroughs, and villages" 
— which would bring in an additional income to the Holy See of 
a thousand pounds of silver (Fitzstephen, p. 74). 

210 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 19 

will not give to another." But his position was 
one of extreme difficulty and delicacy in refusing 
the King's request. From the time of his own 
accession to the Chair of St. Peter, an Antipope, 
upheld by the power of the Emperor, had led 
many of the children of the Church from their 
allegiance to himself. Recent events in England 
showed that the power of King Henry was suffi- 
cient to plunge all his extensive dominions into 
schism, if he should become personally alienated 
from the Pope ; and the Holy See has ever borne 
with everything that was not in itself sin to avert 
sin. Some of the ambassadors secretly showed 
the great danger of such a schism ; and some of 
the Cardinals, amongst whom William of Pavia 
was prominent, recommended a course concili- 
atory to the King of England. But these motives 
and this advice were not sufficiently powerful to 
induce the Pope to send St. Thomas into the 
power of his enemies, from whom he had with 
such difficulty escaped in order that he might lay 
the Church's cause before the Church's Head : 
and consequently, when their three days were 
expired, the King's ambassadors returned without 
success. Their departure was accelerated by a 
fear lest the strong feeling against them in the 
kingdom of France might place themselves or 
their property in danger. 

We left St. Thomas at Soissons, unconscious of 
the success of Herbert of Bosham's interview 
with King Louis. The day after, the King himself 
happened to come to the same place ; and 
learning that St. Thomas was there, he went to 

1 164] THE POPE. 211 

visit him, and showed the most hvely compassion 
and interest in his circumstances. Before Louis 
left him, he made an offer to supply him with all 
that he could need ; but the Archbishop said that 
he was provided for the present, though the time 
might come when such help would be necessary 
for him. Learning that he was on his way to the 
Pope at Sens, he ordered his officials to afford 
him every assistance. 

During the stay of St. Thomas at Soissons 
many personages of great importance in France, 
principally ecclesiastics, amongst whom was 
Henry the Archbishop of Rheims, the brother of 
King Louis, came to visit him to show their 
sj-mpathy ; and some of them accompanied him 
to Sens, so that he travelled through France with 
a party of more than three hundred horsemen. 
The Archbishop's numerous suite, travelling on 
one bank of a river towards Sens, were seen by 
the King's messengers from the other bank on 
their return ; and the latter thought it better to 
send back one of their number, Guy Rufus Dean 
of Waltham, to return to Sens, and report how 
St. Thomas was received by the Pope and 

The sympathy with the Saint's sufferings 
which the Holy Father had shown to Herbert, 
led him to receive St. Thomas with great affec- 
tion. After spending several days at Sens, the 
Saint thought it was time for him to explain to 
the Holy Father how the steps which he had 
taken had become necessary ; and for this he 
could choose his ov^n opportunity, for the Pope 
had left the opening of the subject to his own dis- 

212 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 19 

cretion. The Pope's salutation to him was, "The 
Church has two sons, firm columns on which she 
rests, Thomas of Canterbury and Luke of Gran." 
It was not in the public Consistory, but in the 
Pope's own room, on an occasion when the 
Cardinals were present, that St. Thomas related 
the whole history of the Constitutions of Clar- 
endon, acknowledging openly his own fall ; and 
he concluded by producing the very copy which 
he had then received from the King's officials. 
As the Pope had never seen them before, we must 
suppose that the purport only of some of them 
had been sent to him for confirmation at an early 
period of the dispute. They were now read aloud; 
and the Pope's sentence upon them was, that 
while there were some among them that the 
Church might tolerate, there were others that 
were of such a character that nothing could save 
them from condemnation. The Holy Father then 
spoke with some severity of the Saint's former 
consent to them ; but he praised his wish to 
bring them in person to the Holy See, of his 
sincere devotion towards which his recent suffer- 
ings were a sufficient pledge. 

St. Thomas seems, ever since he spoke at 
Northampton of the share that the King had had 
in his election, to have had in view the step 
which he now took. He took his ring from his 
finger, and resigned the Archbishopric of Canter- 
bury into the hands of the Pope, expressing his 
sense of the manner in which the King's decla- 
ration of his wishes might have influenced the 
election ; adding, that to have resigned before, 
when the Bishops urged him to such a course to 

1164] THE POPE. 213 

gratify the King, would have been an abandon- 
ment of the Church's cause. Some of the Car- 
dinals were very anxious that the most should be 
made of this opportunity of restoring peace to 
England, and they therefore advised that the 
resignation of St. Thomas should be accepted ; 
that another, who would please the King better, 
should succeed him ; and that he should be ap- 
pointed to some other dignified see. But others 
of the Sacred College felt how truly the cause of 
the Church was bound up with our Saint, and 
that if the royal power were permitted to make 
this inroad upon the Church's liberties, it would 
be impossible to prevent further aggression. The 
Holy Father therefore restored his archbishopric 
to St. Thomas, declaring that his conduct had 
shown him to be the fittest for the office. Having 
been now three weeks^ in the Court of the Pope, 
it was time for them to choose a refuge ; and the 
holy Cistercian Order furnishing the separation 
from the world and the constant service of God 
he required, the Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy 
was chosen ; and, having been first recommended 
to the abbot and brethren by the Pope, to their 
great joy and consolation, he entered the monas- 
tery, in which he was to spend the first two years 
of his exile. 

2 Herbert, p. 357. Grim (p. 404) says a month. The Pope 
annulled and revoked the sentence passed by the Bishops and 
barons in the first day at Northampton, of forfeiture of all the 
Saint's movable goods to the King, as being "both contrary to 
the form of law, and against ecclesiastical custom, especially as 
he had no movable goods but those of his Church " (Materials, 
V. p. 178). This document is conjecturally assigned by Jaffe to 
June of the following year. 



1164 — 1166. 

Life of St. Thomas at Pontigny — Abbot Guichard and his hospi- 
tality — Roger of Pontigny— sacred studies — the King confis- 
cates the Saint's possessions, and banishes four hundred of 
his relatives and friends — public prayers for him forbidden — 
the exiles come to Pontigny — they are provided for by the 
charity of Christendom — the Saint's austerities — he takes the 
Cistercian habit — he is made Legate — Abbot Urban sent to 
King Henry — three letters to the King — Henry's sharp 
answer, and the Saint's anxiety. 

St. Thomas began his new life as an exile on the 
Feast of St. Andrew, 1164. He had chosen the 
Monastery of Pontigny because its resources were 
such, that his stay there with his followers would 
be no burden, and because it had a great reputa- 
tion for hospitality, a character which those good 
Cistercians well deserved. Its Abbot Guichard 
had in the previous month of June been specially 
recommended to him by his friend the Bishop of 
Poitiers' as "a venerable man of incomparable 
sanctity," who had undertaken to communicate 
secretly with the Pope on St. Thomas's affairs. 
The good Bishop, who had been the Saint's 
companion of old in Archbishop Theobald's 
I Materials, v. p. 113. 

ii64— Ii66] PONTIGNY. 215 

household, did him the good service now, together 
with Isaac, Abbot of I'Etoile, of recommending 
him to the prayers of the holy community of 
Pontigny ; and at the same time told him that he 
might be sure of temporal help from the monas- 
tery, which, thanks to the Abbot's good manage- 
ment, could best of all Cistercian houses afford 
him succour. The promise of his friend was 
fulfilled in the amplest manner. The good reli- 
gious were kindness itself to the poor exiles, 
providing, as one who experienced their hospi- 
tality records, meat and other things for their 
guests, which their own rigid rule prevented them 
from sharing in themselves. When St. Thomas 
had spent three or four days there, he entered the 
chapter-house ; and after recounting to them the 
cause of his Church, he commended it and him- 
self to their prayers. He and his followers lived 
in a series of monastic cells, near together ; and 
he was waited upon by a monk named Roger, 
whom he ordained priest, and who afterwards 
v^^as in all probability the writer of a very inter- 
esting biography of the Saint. 

The time was now come that St. Thomas had 
longed for all his life. He often said, that when 
he was Lord High Chancellor of England he had 
desired a quiet and retired life, that he might 
devote himself to sacred studies ; and when he 
became Archbishop of Canterbury, he felt still 
more the need of that learning, which, except in 
leisure that he could not then command, he could 
never acquire. He now studied canon aw, under 
Lombard of Piacen^a, that he might the more 

2l6 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 20 

successfully prosecute the cause of the Church ; 
but it was not long before he found from his own 
experience, what his good friend, John of Salis- 
bury, afterwards wrote to him, that such studies 
in one of his position had a tendency to check 
spirituality ; and he therefore studied far more 
assiduously the great science of dogmatic theo- 
logy. His readings in the Holy Scripture with 
Herbert of Bosham were resumed ; and this 
study acquired such charms for him, that soon, 
after the Office in choir, he alwa3'S had some book 
of Scripture in his hands, the Psalter and the 
volume of Epistles being his favourites. Though 
this manner of life was consolatory after the try- 
ing scenes he had lately passed through, yet at 
Pontigny the Saint had to bear crosses of great 
severity, in addition to the thought of the sad 
state of his spouse the Church of Canterbury 
during this his separation from her. 

The Pope had sent a messenger to King Henry 
to accompany the Bishops and others on their 
return ; and they found him on Christmas Eve 
at Marlborough. He was so angry that the Holy 
Father had not consented to his request, that 
St. Thomas should be sent back into England, to 
be there tried by legates delegated by the Pope 
with plenary powers, that by a public decree he 
confiscated all the possessions of the Archbishop 
and Church of Canterbury ; and he passed a 
sentence of banishment against all the relations 
of St. Thomas, against all his household, and 
even against all the relatives, "the fathers and 
mothers, brothers and sisters, nephews and 

ii64— ii66] PONTIGNY. 217 

nieces," of his followers.- Our Lord permitted 
this decree to be issued on Christmas Day, the 
anniversary of His own entrance upon His home- 
less exile ; as if to console all who were suffering 
such hardships for His sake. The decree further 
enjoined, that an oath should be exacted from 
every person thus exiled, that they would go 
personally to St. Thomas at Pontigny ; for the 
King well knew how his tender heart would be 
wounded at the sight of such suffering inflicted 
on all w^ho were dear to him, for no motive but 
their connection with him. The decree was cruel; 
but it was rendered still more cruel by Randulf 
de Broc, the old enemy of St. Thomas, to whom 
its execution was intrusted. The very next 
morning, with the King's apparitors and officials, 
he appeared at Lambeth, where the oath was 
exacted from every one who had any connection 
with the Saint, that they would leave England 
with the first fair wind, and that they would not 
tarry by the way until they had shown themselves 
in their misery to St. Thomas. Those who had 
given him a night's shelter during his wanderings, 
and even the relations of his clerics, were treated 

2 The King's first instructions to the sheriffs through England 
were worded thus: "I command you that if any cleric or lay- 
man in your bailiwick shall appeal to the Roman Court, you 
shall take him and keep him safely till you know my will ; and 
all the income and possessions of the clerks of the Archbishop 
you shall seize into my hand, as Randulf de Broc and my other 
ministers shall tell you. And you shall take by sureties the 
fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces of 
all the clerks who are with the Archbishop, and their chattels, 
until you know my will thereon ; and you shall bring this brief 
with you when summoned" {Materials, v. p. 152). 

2l8 ST, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [ch:^'. 20 

in the same manner ; delicate females and chil- 
dren, and even infants in arms, not being ex- 
cepted ; so that the whole number amounted to 
not less than four hundred. A few escaped actual 
banishment ; but their condition in England was 
as hard to bear. They wandered about in dread 
of arrest ; their friends feared to see them, for it 
was dangerous to speak with them ; and there 
was a penalty against those who harboured or 
helped them. A priest, named William of Salis- 
bury, was imprisoned in Corfe Castle for six 
months. Three others, who were more w-ealthy, 
bought off the persecution against them : Stephen 
of Everton and Alfred of Wathemestede, each 
for one hundred pounds ; Thurstan of Croydon^ 
paid one hundred marks, after he had been con- 
fined for an entire day in a filthy gaol in London 
amongst thieves. Few, if any, escaped as easily 
as William Fit^stephen, the biographer, who 
wrote a rhyming prayer, supposed to be addressed 
to Almighty God by the King ; and presenting it 
to his majesty in the chapel at Bruhull. it took 
the King's fancy, and he was not afterwards 
molested. The Bishop of London might, if he 
had been so inclined, have relieved the destitu- 
tion of such at least of the Archbishop's clerics 
as were deprived of their ecclesiastical revenues ; 
for Henry placed them in his hands, and his 
official, Robert Uscarl, was ver}- diligent in mak- 
ing the most of the benefices, though not for the 

3 Thurstan the cleric in whose house in Kent St. Thomas was 
ill before he was raised to worldly honours, as Jordan of Plum- 
sted has told us (Supra, p. 14). 

Ii64— ii66j PONTIGNY. 2ig 

advantage of the rightful owners. It ^^■as not 
until he had been frequently reproached by the 
Pope with this connivance with the King's in- 
justice, that the Bishop of London ceased to hold 
these benefices. Towards the close of the 3-ear 
he transferred them to the royal treasury. 

St. Thomas also felt very much a decree by 
which the King forbade his name to be publicly 
mentioned in the prayers of the Church. It was 
remarked of Gilbert Foliot, as a specimen of his 
policy, that wjiile St. Thomas was in disgrace, he 
omitted his name from the prayer, but when 
there was some expectation of a reconciliation, 
he reinserted it. So, again, some time after- 
wards, when the King and his son, or, as he was 
called, the young King, were in accordance, he 
used to pray " for our Kings ; " but when they 
quarrelled, he resumed the old form, "for our 

Many of those who were thus cruelly exiled, 
especially those whose age or sex rendered the 
journey very difficult, were absolved by the Pope 
from the oath which had been extorted from 
them, of at once seeking St. Thomas. These, 
therefore, stayed in Flanders. But as the number 
of exiles was very great, the Saint's noble heart 
was wrung by the frequent arrivals at the Abbey 
of Pontigny of these sufferers who had offended 
neither God nor man. The news of such a 
measure of persecution struck all Europe with 
astonishment. It was not long before powerful 
and [wealthy people, even those who were per- 
sonal strangers to the Saint, offered their assist- 

220 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 20 

ance ; and in this work of charity, as might be 
expected of them, the great nation of France 
was prominent. Some were sent by the Arch- 
bishop to a considerable distance with letters 
commending them to the protection of lay per- 
sons and ecclesiastics ; and before very long the 
poor exiles found that Christendom would not let 
them suffer anything in addition to the violent 
breach of every tie that bound them to their 
country and their home. 

" If any one is a defender of the law," St. 
Thomas wrote'* to Stephen the Chancellor of the 
King of Sicily, " he is held to be an enemy of the 
King. We are scattered, we are proscribed. Our 
crime is the assertion of ecclesiastical liberty ; 
for to profess it is under our persecutor to be 
guilty of high treason. He alone is believed to 
be a faithful subject, to whom contempt of reli- 
gion is pleasing, who persecutes the law of God, 
who despises priests, who venerates as something 
sacred the cruelties of former tyrants. Because 
we have dared to speak for the house of the 
Lord, we are in exile with all our relations and 
friends, one of whom is Gilbert, my sister's son, 
who I affectionately ask may be relieved, when 
need be, by the liberality of your highness." 

The effect produced upon St. Thomas himself 
was very great. We have already mentioned that 
he habitually wore a hair-shirt, and that he was 
in the habit of very frequently receiving the 
discipline in secret. In addition to these rigours, 
with which he prepared his soul for the crosses 
4 Materials, v. p. 247. 

ii64— ii66] PONTIGNY. 221 

God destined for him, he now attempted an 
austerity in his diet, to which he had been unac- 
customed all his life. The sluggishness of his 
circulation, which rendered so much clothing 
requisite, made it imperative on him to take 
nourishing food ; and for the same reason, he 
found the use of hot spices, like cloves and 
ginger, absolutely necessary, even in considerable 
quantities. In like manner, the wine that was 
provided for him was always of good quality ; 
though he used it with the greatest moderation. 
He had ever been sparing, though his food had 
been delicate ; but now he bade the lay-brother 
who served him bring him the simple conventual 
fare amongst the dishes which they prepared for 
him. That it might not be observed that he ate 
nothing but herbs, he dined apart from his 
followers. After a few days of this unaccustomed 
austerity, he fell ill. On one occasion, when 
Herbert went to him for his usual study of 
Scripture, finding that he was seriously unwell, 
he urged him ver}' much to say what was the 
cause of the illness. St. Thomas attempted to 
change the subject ; but at length, in answer to 
his friend's importunity, he said that he was not 
certain, but that he imagined that his illness was 
owing to this change in his manner of living. 
He was induced to lay this aside and resume his 
former diet, when his health was soon restored. 
The Saint was not, however, content with the 
mortification of his assiduous study and the 
simplicity of his new convent home ; but the 
very coldness of the stream that flowed past the 

222 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 20 

monastery was made by him an instrument of 
penance, to subdue his flesh and to bring himself 
into subjection. 

While St. Thomas was at Pontigny, he re- 
quested the Holy Father, who was still at Sens, 
to send him the habit of a monk. The Pope 
blessed one of thick rough cloth, and forwarded 
it to the Archbishop, with a message to the effect 
that he had sent him such a one as he had, and 
not such as he could have wished. He was 
invested with the habit privately by the Abbot of 
Pontigny. Alexander Llewellyn was standing by ; 
and when he saw that the capuce or hood was 
disproportionately small, he said in his dry way, 
" It is serious enough, but whether it is regular 
or not I am sure I do not know. It is plain that 
my lord the Pope has not fitted over well the 
hood to the cowl." St. Thomas said with a laugh, 
" It was done on purpose, lest 3'ou should mock 
me again, as you did the other day." " How and 
when was that, my lord ? " said he. " The day 
before yesterday, when I was vesting for Mass 
and had put the girdle on, you asked what stuck 
out so behind. Now you would call me hump- 
backed, I suppose, if my hood were over-large. 
So, you see, I am only protected against your 
gibes." The fact was, that the hair-shirt which 
the Saint wore from his neck to his knees was 
very thick and stiff, and gave him an appearance 
of greater size than he really had ; for though his 
face was full, he was really very thin. 

Giraldus^ says that St. Thomas had the custom, 

5 Giraldus Cambrensis, De Instyuctionc riincipum, Anglia 
Christiana Society, Ed. Brewer, 184G, p. 1S6. 

ii64— iiG6] PONTIGXY. 223 

when he was wearied by study, of visiting his 
clerics in turn, and asking them what they had 
discovered of interest in the course of. their 
reading. On one occasion coming thus to Alex- 
ander the ^^'elshman, he asked him what book he 
had in hand, and was told, "All Martial's works/' 
"A very proper book for you," rejoined the Saint, 
for Alexander was a facetious man, as Giraldus 
and Herbert of Bosham have both recorded of 
him. " The book is worth transcribing," he said, 
" if it were only for the two lines I was reading 
just as you came up ; they so exactly fit our case. 

Di mihi dent, et tu, quae tu Trojane inereris, 
Di mihi dent, et tu, quae volo si merui." 

Gods and thou grant me, Trojan, what thy merits claim ! 
Gods and thou grant my wish, if I deserve the same ! 

The Martial was transcribed accordingly, and the 
copy probably found its wa}- in due time to Can-, 
terbury. And indeed we are told in general that 
the Saint made use of his stay in this religious 
house to get copies made for the Church of Can- 
terbury of all the best books in the French 
libraries. He also was at some pains to ascertain 
what privileges different great churches had ob- 
tained from the Holy See, in order that he might 
gain as many of them as possible for his own. 

Meanwhile time was rolling on, and messengers 
were constantly passing between the parties who 
were engaged in this struggle. Apparently at 
first both the Pope and St. Thomas seemed to 
consider it very advisable that some little time 
might pass by, in order that the King's anger 

224 ST- THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 20 

might cool down. After a while, the Pope, seeing 
no improvement, gave great weight to St. 
Thomas's cause by making him his Legate over 
England. In the course of his second year at 
Pontigny, he felt that the time was come for him 
to exercise the power committed to him. He 
chose a Cistercian Abbot of one of the dependen- 
cies of Pontigny, of the name of Urban, a person 
described as admirably fitted, from his gentle and 
winning manners, for the office ; and by him he 
sent letters to the King. The Pope had forbidden 
St. Thomas to use his powers until the Easter 
(April 24th) of 1 166 should be past ; and in the 
interval he had written to urge Gilbert Foliot to 
use all his influence with the King to induce him 
to repent. The application had been quite fruit- 
less ; but Gilbert had used all his sophistry to put 
Henry's conduct in a favourable light before the 
Pope. The letter^ which St. Thomas sent by 
Urban soon after Easter was of the gentlest and 
most conciliatory tenour. " My lord, the daughter 
of Sion is held captive in your kingdom. The 
Spouse of the great King is oppressed by her 
enemies, afflicted by those who ought most to 
honour her, and especially by you. Oh, remember 
what great things God has done for you ; release 
her, reinstate her, and take away the reproach 
from your generation." This short extract will 
show the style of the letter, the bearer of which 
speedily returned, without having been able in 
the least to move or soften the King. 

Another extract will show the yet gentle though 

C Materials, v. p. 26G. 

ii64— ii66] PONTIGNY. 22$ 

stronger tone in which the Saint wrote his second 
letter'' to Henry. " Now I am straitened above 
measure ; for a spiritual power has been assigned 
to me by the same God under whom you hold 
temporal dominion ; and my office constrains me 
to address your Majesty in a manner which as 
yet my exile has prevented. It is my duty to 
exhort you, nay, to warn and rebuke you, lest, if 
any thing you have done amiss, which, indeed, 
you have, my silence may endanger my own 
soul." This letter being as fruitless as that which 
preceded it, one of a still more solemn character 
was sent, and by a messenger whose appearance 
and reputation would add to its weight. A monk 
of the name of Gerard had won for himself, by 
his austerities, the surname of The Discalced. 
He was a man whose peculiar gift it was to 
reconcile those who were at variance, and he was 
further remarkable for a very apostolical liberty 
of speech. Gerard, with another religious, took 
charge of the Archbishop's letter, of which the 
following is an extract : " You are my liege lord, 
and as such I owe you my counsels ; you are my 
son in the Spirit, and I am bound to chasten and 
correct you. . . . Let my lord, therefore, if it 
please him, listen to the counsels of his subject, 
to the warnings of his Bishop, and to the chas- 
tisements of his father. And first, let him for the 
future abstain from all communion with schis- 
matics. It is known almost to the whole world 
with what devotion your Majesty formerly re- 
ceived our lord the Pope, and what attachment 
7 Materials, v. p. 269. 

226 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 20 

you manifested to the See of Rome ; and also 
what respect and deference were shown you in 
return. Forbear then, my lord, as you value your 
soul, to withdraw from that see its just rights. 
Remember, moreover, the profession you made to 
my predecessor at your coronation, and which 
you deposited in writing upon the altar at West- 
minster, respecting the rights and liberties of the 
Church in England. Be pleased also to restore 
to the see of Canterbury, from which )-ou received 
your consecration, the rank which it held in the 
time of your predecessors and mine ; together 
with all its possessions, its villages, castles, and 
farms, and whatever else has been taken by 
violence, either from myself or my dependents, 
lay as well as clerical. And further, allow us to 
return in peace and quietness to the free dis- 
charge of our duties. 

"■ Should your Majesty be pleased to act in this 
manner, you will find me prepared to serve you 
as a beloved lord and King, faithfully and de- 
votedly, with all my might, in whatsoever I am 
able, — saving the honour of God and of the 
Roman Church, and saving my order. But other- 
wise, know for certain that you will feel the ven- 
geance of God.'' 

This letter was delivered to the King in May, 
1166, at Chinon,^ where he was holding a meet- 
ing^ of his nobles to take counsel against St. 
Thomas. The answer that it drew was a bitter 
complaint '° from Henry addressed to the Abbot 
of Citeaux, that "your Abbot of Cercamp brought 

8 Materials, v. p. 2GG. 9 Ibid. p. 3S1. 10 Jlu'd, p. 363. 

ii64— 1156] PONTIGNY. 227 

a writing from Thomas, who was once our Chan- 
cellor, and read it with his own lips, in which we 
were charged with breach of faith and as it seems 
with schism, with other words of anger and pride 
which are derogatory to our honour and person." 
This sharp answer to his letter proved to the 
Archbishop that the King's heart was not by any 
such measures to be softened towards him. These 
three extracts of letters have been given, not 
only on account of their importance as the hearty 
efforts of the Saint for reconciliation before he 
proceeded to stronger measures, but also that 
they may leave upon the reader's mind the im- 
pression which the perusal of the whole corres- 
pondence would produce, that the Archbishop 
never resorted to vigorous remedies before every 
effort to render them unnecessary had been made 
without effect. St. Thomas was now very anxious; 
for he felt that the time had arrived when he 
could be no longer silent regarding the wrongs of 
his see before the Church and Christendom. The 
power of the keys was in his hands, as Arch- 
bishop and Legate ; and he dared not leave it 
inactive. How these thoughts must have moved 
him, as he prayed and fasted and did penance for 
the conversion of the King ! how his heart must 
have burned within him, as he worked with the 
simple Cistercian brethren in the hay-field and 
the harvesting, and in all their out-door labours ! 
— for he must have felt what a responsibility lay 
upon him of using rightly the great powers 
intrusted to him. What wonder that his heart 
should have failed him, and in his humility that 

228 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 20 

he should have thought, as we are told he did 
think, of resigning his archbishopric into other 
hands ? The dismay at such a proposal of those 
who, as well as himself, were suffering for the 
Church, and their lively sense that it would be a 
desertion of the cause of God, persuaded him 
that it was a suggestion of the tempter, and that 
this was a time when personal feelings could not 
be allowed to^interfere with deeds to be done in 
God and for God. 




King Henry dallies with schism — his angry words against St. 
Thomas — he appeals to the Holy See against the Saint, who 
absents himself from Pontigny when the Archbishop of 
Rouen and the Bishop of Lisieux bring notice of the appeal 
— St. Thomas is confirmed in the primacy and made Legate 
— his letters to England — he goes to Soissons, and thence to 
Vezelay, where he publishes various censures — the Bishops 
appeal — the Pope confirms the censures — the King threatens 
the Cistercian Order — St. Thomas leaves Pontigny — he fore- 
tells his martyrdom to two successive Abbots — he promises 
the monks a reward — St. Edmund's relics rest in the abbey 
church — an altar erected there to St. Thomas after his mar- 
tyrdom — miracles. 

King Henry had been urged by his hostility to 
St, Thomas very far towards flagrant schism. 
That the remark that the Saint made in the letter 
last quoted was very gentle, when compared to 
the lengths which the King had gone, is suffi- 
ciently plain when we read the opening sentence 
of Henry's letter to Reginald, Archbishop of 
Cologne, who was the greatest amongst the 
followers of the Emperor and the Antipope. " I 
have long wished for an opportunity to recede 
from Pope Alexander and his perfidious Car- 
dinals, who dare to uphold against me the traitor 
Thomas, once Archbishop of Canterbury." Though 

230 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 21 

he never actually carried into full effect the 
wicked intentions here expressed, yet it was con- 
fidently asserted that he had sent John of Oxford 
and Richard of Ilchester as his ambassadors to 
the Emperor, at the Diet of Wiirzburg, at Whit- 
suntide, 1 165, to pledge his word that he would 
bring "fifty Bishops" to obey the Antipope;^ and 
he knew full well to what spiritual censures such 
rebellious and schismatical proceedings subjected 
him. This consciousness, therefore, together with 
the many causes of complaint which the Church 
previously had against him, led him, with much 
reason, to fear that some sentence would be 
passed against himself, and perhaps against the 
whole country. He held consequently several 
councils on the Continent ; one more especially 
at Chinon, as we have already said, where, after 
complaining bitterly of the letters which St. 
Thomas had written to him, and of similar letters 
to the Empress Matilda his mother, he used with 
tears words which have a terrible prominence on 
the page of history ; for they are, by a singular 
coincidence, the very same as those which, four 
y^ars later, led to the martyrdom of St. Thomas. 
He declared that the Archbishop would take away 
his body and soul ; and he called the knights 

I Materials, v. p. 185. The Emperor Frederic Barbarossa in 
his diploma respecting the canonization of Charlemagne at Aix- 
la Chapelle, says that it was done "at the earnest petition of ou 
dearest friend Henry King of England, and by the assent and 
authority of the Lord Paschal," the Antipope. The effect of this 
canonization, in itself of course null, has been by the tacit con- 
sent of subsequent Popes and the lapse of time, equivalent to 
beatification (Benedict XIV. Dc Canon. SS. lib. i, c. ix. n. 4). 

ii66] VEZELAY. 23I 

around him traitors, for they had not zeal enough 
to reheve him from the molestations of one man.^ 
On this the Archbishop of Rouen rebuked the 
King with some warmth ; yet, from the very 
gentleness of his disposition, with less severity 
than God's cause demanded. 

The Bishop of Lisieux, who was ever tempo- 
rizing, recommended an immediate appeal, as the 
only means of preventing the Archbishop from 
passing sentence ; and Henry consenting, the 
singular spectacle was shown to the world, of the 
King who was at war with the Holy See, and who 
had made laws to prevent appeals, himself ap- 
pealing to that authority. To the Bishop of 
Lisieux was added another courtier, the Bishop 
of Seez ; and they hoped, by hastening to the 
Archbishop, and giving notice of the appeal, tO' 
be able to delay matters until Low-week in the 
following year. The Archbishop of Rouen accom- 
panied themi ; professing, however, that he did so 
in order that he might seize every opportunity to 
promote peace, and not as taking any part in the 
appeal. The Saint had timely notice of their 
coming from one of his friends who was at King 
Henry's Court ; and not wishing to see them, he 
left Pontigny. 

It has been already said that, prior to writing 
the three letters to the King in the last chapter, 
St. Thomas had been made Apostolic Legate. A 

2 "Tandem dixit quod omnes proditores erant, qui eura adhi- 
bita opera et diligentia ab unius hominis infestatione nolebant 
expedire" {Materials, v. p. 381). 

232 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 21 

bull 2 had been issued, probably on the 8th of April, 
1166 (the date it bears is questioned), granting to 
St. Thomas and his successors in the see of Can- 
terbury, the primacy of England, as fully as it 
had been held by Lanfranc and Anselm and his 
other predecessors. Very shortly after this, that 
is on Easter Day, the 24th of April in this year, 
1 166, by letters dated from the Lateran,'^ the Pope 
made St. Thomas his Legate over all England, 
save only the diocese of York. Of these letters 
the Saint sent two copies to England ; one to the 
Bishops of Hereford and Worcester, who on the 
whole had shown themselves the most sensible of 
their duty to the Archbishop, and on whom he 
had an especial claim as their consecrator, and 
the other to the Bishop of London, especially 
commanding them to communicate them to their 
fellow-suffragans and to the Bishop of Durham. 
The letter was placed in the hands of the Bishop 
of London at the altar at St. Paul's on the festival 
day, June 30, 1166. Its authority produced a 
great impression upon him, and he wrote to the 
King5 in this strain: "The high authority by 
which we are now opposed and overwhelmed, 
compels us to have recourse to your Majesty for 
counsel and support. No appeal can suspend 

3 Materials, v. p. 324. Vide supra, p. 21. 

4 The date given is Anagni, Oct. g, but as this is impossible, 
and as the Pope's letter to the Bishops announcing the Arch- 
bishop's legation is dated April 24, from the Lateran, the same 
date is reasonably assigned to the concession itself {Materials, 
V- P- 329). Herbert (p. 397) expressly says that St. Thomas \va 
Legate at Vezelay, that is in June. 

5 Materials, v. p. 417. 

ii66] VEZELAY. 233 

an apostolical mandate, which admits of no alter- 
native but to obey or be guilty of disobedience. 
. . . Your Highness will provide against the 
disgrace, nay the extinction, which threatens us, 
if you grant us your royal permission to obey the 
apostolical mandate and pay the amount of 
Peter's pence, and of your royal clemency make 
restitution to the clerics ; and if you give the 
Bishops a command that, in case the Arch- 
bishop's letters contain any matter contrary to 
the customs of the country, they may appeal at 
once to the Pope or to the Legates who are ex- 
pected." Poor Gilbert must have bitterly experi- 
enced by this time how hard it is to serve two 
masters as different as God and mammon. Well 
might he write to the Pope, " To tell the truth in 
a few words, while matters are in this state 
between my lord the King and his lordship of 
Canterbury, it is impossible for me or any other 
Bishop in this kingdom to obey the commands of 
the one and avoid the insupportable anger of the 

There is an interesting letter^ extant, from the 
Pope to the Suffragan Bishops of the Province of 
Canterbury, written a little later than this, ex- 
plaining the difference between the powers of a 
Metropolitan and of a Legate. Some of the 
Bishops had asserted that St. Thomas could 
interfere with no cases coming from their dio- 
ceses, unless they were brought before him by 
appeal. This the Pope says is true when an 
Archbishop is acting as Metropolitan, but if he 

6 Materials, v. p. 297. 

234 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 21 

be Legate of the Holy See, he can and ought to 
hear all causes that come before him from all the 
dioceses of the Province, whether they come by 
way of appeal or by complaint of the parties. 

St. Thomas left Pontigny soon after he re- 
ceived these Legatine powers, and he went to 
Vezelay, prepared to use them. This intention 
however he kept to himself, not communicating it 
even to the intimate friends of his household. 
He spent three days at Soissons, keeping vigil by 
night at three celebrated sanctuaries there. The 
first was a shrine of our Blessed Lady ; the 
second of St. Drausin, the patron of champions, 
and much frequented by knights about to engage 
in judicial combats from all France and Italy;'' 
and the third that of St. Gregory the Great, 
some of whose relics were there venerated. On 
the 3rd of June, 1166, the day after the Ascen- 
sion, he went to Ve^elay. On the same day he 
received a message from King Louis, testifying to 
an illness of the King of England, which had 
prevented him from attending a conference be- 
tween them, for which Henry had been very 
anxious. The Saint consequently postponed his 
intention of passing censure upon the King. At 
the petition of the Abbot and the communit)', 
St. Thomas celebrated the High Mass on the 
festival of Pentecost ; and after the Gospel, he 

7 John of Salisbury says, "Here Robert of Montfort kept 
his vigil before his combat with Henry of Essex " [Materials, 
V. p. 382). St. Drausin (Drausius) was the 22nd Bishop of 
Soissons, the founder of the famous abbey of Notre Dame. 

8 Herbert (p. 391), writing several years afterwards, says 
that it was the feast of St. Mary Magdalen (July 22nd), to whom 
the Church was dedicated, and whose relics were there 

ii66j VEZELAY. 235 

mounted the pulpit and preached an energetic 
sermon. After it, he publicly explained what 
were the real causes at issue between himself and 
the King, and his own fruitless efforts for a recon- 
ciliation ; to the astonishment of all, but more 
especially of his own followers, whom, he had not 
informed of what he was about to do. With 
every mark of the deepest emotion, he warned 
King Henry by name of the sentence hanging 
over him. This he afterwards told Herbert he 
was obliged by his conscience to do. 

But if the King escaped the censure he deserved, 
several lesser offenders were punished. John 
of Oxford was excommunicated by St. Thomas as 
Papal Legate for two offences : for schism, in 
communicating with the Emperor and with 
Reginald Archbishop of Cologne; and for usurping 
the deanery of Salisbury, against the Pope's com- 
mand. Equally publicly, before the large con- 
course of people assembled from all nations, 
St. Thomas excommunicated Richard of II- 
chester,^ then Archdeacon of Poitiers, for com- 

honoured ; but John of Salisbury, in a letter written at the 
time (Materials, v. p. 3S3), says that it was Pentecost (June 12th). 
Gervase (p. 200) follows Herbert ; but Nicholas of Mount 
Rouen mentions the proceedings at Vezelay in a letter which 
says, that it was expected that on St. Mary Magdalen's day 
sentence would be passed on the King {Materials, v. p. 421), and 
in the same letter a meeting of the Bishops, subsequent to these 
proceedings, is said to have been held about the feast of St. John 
(June 24th). 

9 This Richard of Ivelchester, or Ilchester, who, according to 
Godwin (De Pi'wsid. Angl. p. 216), had also the surnames of 
Topclif and More, succeeded Henry of Blois as Bishop of Win- 
chester. At the time of his election, he professed himself very 
devout to St. Thomas. John of Salisbury wrote in 1173 to 

236 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 21 

municating with the Archbishop of Cologne, 
Richard de Luci, Jocehn de Bailleul, as the 
authors of the Constitutions of Clarendon, and 
Randulf de Broc, Hugh of St. Clair, and 
Thomas FitzBernard, for usurping the posses- 
sions of his Church ; and he also published a 
decree excommunicating ipso facto all who should 
injure the Church of Canterbury. Finally, he 
suspended Jocelin the Bishop of Salisbury, for 
manifest disobedience, because he had conferred 
the deanery of his church on John of Oxford ; 
though he had been duly warned that he was not 
to give it to any one whom the King might name, 
but to wait until the Canons of Salisbury, who 
were in exile with St. Thomas, could unite with 
the rest of the chapter to exercise the right which 
belonged to them of electing their Dean. 

In addition to these sentences, he published 
anew the Pope's condemnation of the following 
Constitutions of Clarendon, excommunicating 
any one who should act on their authority : 

1. That a Bishop may not excommunicate any 
tenant of the King without the King's license. 

2. That a Bishop may not punish any person 
of his diocese for perjury or breach of faith. 

3. That clerics be subjected to lay tribunals. 

4. That questions of churches or tithes be tried 
by laymen. 

recommend him to Humbald the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, 
saying, " He loves your friend the glorious Martyr of Christ 
with such affection, that he has made himself his servant ; so 
that he consoles his followers, many of whom flock to him in 
their necessities, and he tries with all his might to imitate him " 
(Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 277), 

ii66] VEZELAY. 237 

5. That no appeals be made for any cause 
whatever to the Apostolic See, except with the 
permission of the King and his officials. 

6. That no Archbishop, Bishop, or other digni- 
tary, may attend a summons from the Pope with- 
out the King's leave. 

These, he said, were not the only enactments 
of Clarendon which are against the Divine law 
and the constitutions of the holy Fathers. The 
Archbishop absolved all the Bishops from the 
unlawful promise which they had made of ob- 
serving these constitutions ; and wrote to them 
all to that effect, as the Holy See had given him 

The Bishops of Lisieux and Seez, with the 
Archbishop of Rouen, as has been already inti- 
mated, did not find St. Thomas at Pontigny when 
they came with notice of the King's appeal. 
When he returned, he found the formahties of 
the notice awaiting him ; and though many of 
his followers advised him to disregard the appeal 
as being invalid, yet he determined to do nothing 
whatever without the Pope. 

All the parties concerned appealed to the Pope 
from St. Thomas's sentence. Gilbert Foliot inter- 
ceded with the King that the Bishop of Salisbury 
might have leave to do so ; and the words in 
which he makes the request shows how sadly he 
was changed from the fervent religious of Clugny 
and Gloucester, or the zealous Bishop of Here- 
ford. Two clerics consequently arrived at Pon- 
tigny; one on the part of the Bishop of Salisbury, 
and the other on that of John of Oxford. The 

238 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 21 

latter denied that his master had had any schis- 
matical intercourse with the Emperor or with 
Reginald of Cologne ; and said that, as a member 
of the household of one of the clerics of the 
chapel-ro3'al, he was charged to inform the Arch- 
bishop that the King himself instituted an appeal, 
for the term of which he named the second 
Sunday after Easter of the following year. St. 
Thomas replied, that he came without any proof 
that he was sent by the King ; and still further, 
that as he confessed to having communicated 
with John of Oxford, an excommunicated person, 
he was himself excommunicate ; and therefore 
that his appeal was invalid. 

The Bishops met on the 24th of June ; and 
they also appealed, naming next Ascension Day 
as the term. They wrote two long letters ;^° one 
to St. Thomas and the other to the Pope. St. 
Thomas and his followers read in these letters the 

10 Materials, v. pp. 403, 408. Though written in the name of 
all the Bishops, these bore the seals but of three — London, 
Winton, and Hereford (Materials, vi. p. 65). The last two names 
it is not a little surprising to find in such a position. Neither 
St. Thomas nor the Bishop of Winchester forgot the relation- 
ship then felt to be incurred by consecration (Ibid. p. 345). 
Henry of Winton was one of the first of the English Bishops 
who dared to act according to the laws of the Church and his 
conscience; and the affection St. Thomas bore him is beautifully 
shown in the conclusion of one of his letters to him (Ep. St. 
Tho. i. p. 338): "May your holiness fare well, father to be 
beloved, and remember to commend to God in your prayers 
your creation, — I speak of our littleness." To Robert of Hereford 
St. Thomas wrote, "Doleo super ie, frater, fdi mi primogenite." For 
putting his seal to this letter the Bishop of Hereford received 
a very severe and cutting rebuke front Ernisius, the Abbot, and 
the Prior of St. Victor's at Paris, in the name of his former 
scholars {Materials, v. p. 45G). 

ii66] VEZELAY. 239 

Style and spirit of Gilbert Foliot ; and in a very 
full answer" to them the Saint says so. This 
drew from Gilbert's pen a letter/- which was in 
all probability never sent ; for it, and it alone, of 
all the letters on the subject, is not noticed either 
by St. Thomas or any of his correspondents ; a 
letter which is so calumnious, that its very false- 
hood is regarded by one modern writer as a proof 
of its spuriousness ; a letter which probably 
never was delivered on account of its very 
calumny, the exposure of which could not have 
been difficult ; and which has provided modern 
opponents of St. Thomas, who consider its being 
unanswered as a proof of its unanswerableness, 
wdth matter for what they very truly call a view 
of the conduct of St. Thomas through the whole 
controversy, from the beginning to the end, ver}- 
different from that to be found any where else. 

These lesser appeals were all unsuccessful. 
When Bonus Pastor Sunday (the second after 
Easter) of 1167 came, Jocelin of Salisbury did 
not appear to prosecute his appeal ; and the Pope 
confirmed the suspension, and all the other 
sentences passed at Vezelay. He also commanded 
the Archbishop to condemn all who had usurped 
Church property ; and though he did not give 
any especial directions regarding the King, he 
expressly left the Saint's own ecclesiastical 
powers free ; and he wrote to the Bishops, warn- 
ing them that all such sentences he would uphold. 

The stay of St. Thomas at Pontigny was now 
coming to an end, owing to the machinations of 
" Materials, v. p. 490. 12 Ibid. p. 521. See Note C. 

240 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 2r 

the King of England. Although the appeals were 
pending, the King immediately sent over into 
England Walter de Lisle, who is described as a 
good man, and an unwilling bearer of such orders, 
with commands that all the ports should be very 
strictly watched, lest any sentence passed by the 
Archbishop should find admission. In another 
parliament at Clarendon, he exacted an oath 
from the Bishops and nobles, that they would not 
give the Archbishop any assistance, nor receive 
any letters from him ; and he also included in 
the oath the receipt of any letters from the Pope, 
and appeals to any one save himself. In the 
September following, on Holy Cross Day (Sept. 
14, 1166), the general chapter of the Cistercian 
Order was held as usual. The King sent them a 
letter to the effect that they were harbouring one 
of his enemies ; and warned them that, as the\- 
valued their possessions in his dominions on 
either side of the Channel, they should cease to 
do so. After the three days of the chapter, 
Gilbert, Abbot of Citeaux, the Bishop of Pavia, 
who had once been a monk of the order, 
and several other Abbots, came to Pontigny. 
They showed the Saint the letter which they had 
received ; and added, that they did not send him 
away from amongst them, but they left the matter 
to the dictates of his own prudence and affection 
for their order. The meaning of this message 
was sufficiently plain; and St. Thomas replied, 
that he would certainly go elsewhere ; and that 
he trusted to the Lord, who feeds the birds of the 
air and clothes the lilies of the field, to provide 

Ii66] VEZELAY. 24! 

for him and his fellow-exiles. On the following 
day the Abbots departed, leaving Guarin de 
Galardim, the good Abbot of Pontigny, and his 
charitable community full of sorrow at their 
approaching loss, and of compassion for the 
homeless Prelate and his household. The true 
sympathy and warm active charity of this noble 
abbey more than compensates for the want 
of heroism shown by the chapter of Citeaux. 
Abbot Guichard, who had been summoned to 
Sens by the Pope, that he might introduce our 
Saint to him, and who had so gladly and hospit- 
ably received him, had been consecrated at 
Montpellier by the Pope himself to the Arch- 
bishopric of Lyons on the 8th of August of the 
previous year (1165);'^ but his successor had 
inherited his charity and his hospitable spirit as 
well as the abbatial mitre and staff. 

While St. Thomas was at Pontigny, he received 
from God a foreknowledge of what was to happen 
to him. One day, after he had said Mass, while 
he was making his thanksgiving before the altar 
of St. Stephen with that fervour which dis- 
tinguished all his devotions to the Blessed Sacra- 
ment, he heard a voice, which called, "Thomas! 
Thomas!" He answered, "Who art Thou, 
Lord ? " And our Lord said to him, " I am Jesus 
Christ, thy Lord and thy Brother ; My Church 
shall be glorified in thy blood, and thou shalt be 
glorified in Me." When the Saint was leaving 
the church, he found that he had not been alone, 

13 He did not obtain possession before St Martin's day, No- 
vember II, 1 167 {Materials, vi. 279). 


242 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 21 

as he thought, but that the Abbot was waiting for 
him by one of the columns, and had heard all. 
The Saint bound him to silence on the subject 
until the promise should be accomplished. 

The successor of this Abbot received a similar 
intimation ; for on the day of his departure from 
Pontigny, the good Guarin accompanied the 
cavalcade on its way ; and it w^as remarked that 
St. Thomas, who was usually very cheerful in 
travelling, was now very sorrowful, keeping apart 
from his companions and fellow-travellers. The 
Abbot urged him very much to tell him what was 
the matter, upbraiding him freely for the effemi- 
nacy of his attachment, as it seemed to him, to 
the home he was leaving. At length the Saint, 
under a promise of secrecy, told him that the 
cause of his sorrow was a revelation he had 
received, in a vision the night before, of the mar- 
tyrdom by which this trouble was to end. " Yet," 
he said, " I am not so sorrowful for the revela- 
tion, for which I rather give the Most High all 
the thanks in my power ; but I grieve for those 
who follow me, and have borne so much for me, 
for I know for a certainty that when I am struck 
down, the sheep will have no shepherd." The 
Abbot smiled, and said, " So, then, you are going 
to be martyred. What has a man who eats and 
drinks to do with martyrdom ? " His answer was 
saintly in its humility: " I know that I am too 
fond of worldl}' pleasures ; but the Lord is good, 
who justifies the wicked, and He has deigned to 
reveal this to me, who am all unworthy." He 
then recounted the vision, that in some church, 

1166] VE2ELAY. 243 

he knew not where, he was defending his cause 
before the Pope and Cardinals, the Pope being on 
his side, but the Cardinals against him, when 
four soldiers rushed in, and in that same church 
attacked him, and cut off that part of his head 
that was anointed at his consecration, now 
marked by his tonsure ; and from this he gathered 
that it was God's will to make known to him that 
by a hard though precious death he would glorify 
Him. He told this vision afterwards to the 
Abbot of Val-luisant also, under similar con- 
ditions of secrecy ; and after his martyrdom both 
these witnesses made it public. With what fer- 
vour St. Thomas must have spent the four years 
that were to intervene, with this sense of his 
coming martyrdom ever before his eyes, we may 
piously conceive. 

On his departure, he made a promise^-* to the 
monks that a successor of his should recompense 
them for their goodness to him. When Cardinal 
Stephen Langton received shelter from them, 
while excluded from his see by King John, he 
made a grant to the abbey of fifty marks sterling 
from the revenues of the benefice of Romney. 
To this St. Edmund, under similar circumstances, 
added ten ; and the blessed Archbishop Boniface 
of Savoy,'5 in 1264, out of gratitude to them for 
the refuge thus afforded to three Archbishops of 

14 Martene, Thes. Nov. Anecd. iii. p. 1S73. 

15 At the prayer of King Charles Albert, Pope Gregory XVI., 
by a decree 7th September, 1S3S, approved of the immemorial 
honour this English Archbishop has received at Hautecombe in 
Savoy, where he is buried and venerated as a saint. 

244 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 21 

Canterbury/^ gave them the whole of the tithes 
of the same rectory. But the fulfilment of St. 
Thomas's prophecy was a far nobler treasure ; 
and he was afterwards understood by the monks 
of Pontigny to have referred to the holy relics of 
St. Edmund, of which their church was and still is 
the resting-place ; and this is asserted in the bull 
of his canonisation by Pope Innocent IV.''' The 
first cure performed at St. Edmund's tomb was 
that of a poor cripple, whom the monks called 
Thomas, out of gratitude to our Saint. 

But long before there was an altar of St. Ed- 
mund in that grand old Abbey church of Pon- 
tigny, there was an altar of St, Thomas of Can- 
terbury ; and we have the account of a miracle 
wrought by St. Thomas's intercession in a letter'** 
written by Peter Abbot of Pontigny to Benedict 
Prior of Canterbury in the year 1176 or 1177, 
One of the monks named Ponce had suffered for 
ten weeks from paralysis of the right side united 
with epilepsy. He obtained his Abbot's leave to 
vow a pilgrimage to St. Thomas, but instead of 
any improvement, he grew so much worse that in 
the middle of the night his attendants summoned 
the Abbot and a part of the community from 
Matins to give him Extreme Unction. The fol- 
lowing day, which was Saturday before Palm 
S.unday, he seemed to be dying, and everything 

iG Martene, Thes. Nov. Anecd. iii. pp. 1247, 1254, 1255, 1S24, 
1S53, 1904. 

17 Lyons, 11 Jan. 1247. BuUar. Roi:!an. Alban Butler (Nov. 16) 
erroneously says Innocent V. 

18 Will. Cant. pp. 512, 532, 533. 

ii66] VEZELAY. 245 

was prepared for his funeral. But in the evening, 
waking up from the sleep of death, he rose and 
began to walk with the help of sticks. Soon 
he found that he was quite well, and with his 
attendants he hastened down to the church, where 
the Abbot was at that moment giving holy water 
to the monks after Compline. When the Abbot, 
who tells the story, had recovered from his stupe- 
faction, he sprinkled him also with holy water, 
and Brother Ponce went to spend the night in 
thanksgiving at the altar of St. Thomas. 

The Book of Miracles by William of Canter- 
bury, in which this story is given, mentions two 
other persons belonging to Pontigny. One of 
them was Robert, who had been a servant of 
St. Thomas when he was Chancellor, and had 
become a lay-brother at Pontigny. He was 
suffering from a quinsy, which took away his 
power of speech, and for a week he had been 
without food. In the night he heard a voice 
saying, " Brother Robert, can you not speak ? " 
The sick man pajang no attention, the same 
thing was repeated, and the third time he 
heard, " Robert, speak to me, I am Thomas." 
Looking up, he saw his old master by the light of 
the lamp, and calling out in his eagerness, 
*' Thomas, Thomas ! " the quinsy broke and the 
good monk used his newly-recovered speech in 
prayer and praise. 

The other story tells us that Guarin, Abbot of 
Pontigny, being elected Archbishop of Bourges, 
in 1 174, the day of his consecration came, and 
only two Bishops appeared for the consecration. 

246 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 2 r 

As the morning wore on, and all were fretting at 
the delay, one of the Abbots present said that he 
had dreamt the night before that Alexander the 
Welshman, St. Thomas's cleric, had come to say 
that his master would be present as a fourth 
Bishop at the consecration on the following da}-. 
Dinner-time coming, the Archbishop-elect re- 
turned to his palace, giving up all hope of conse- 
cration for that day, when the Bishop of Cahors 
galloped into the town, he and his suite having 
been detained and nearly lost in a flood. The 
consecration was now able to proceed, and the 
third Bishop having come, the promised presence 
of the fourth was piously inferred. 




The Saint leaves Pontigny — hospitality of King Louis, by whom 
he is maintained at Sens — the Pope's journeys — St. Thomas 
accompanies him to Bourges — subsequent miracle where he 
lived — "sweet France" — John of Oxford successful in his 
appeal — the Saint remonstrates against the appointment of 
Cardinal William of Pavia as Legate — Cardinals William and 
Otho appointed Legates, with full powers^John of Oxford 
lands in England — St. Thomas, John of Salisbury, and Lom- 
bard of Piacenza write to the Pope. 

When the exiles were left together, on the an- 
nouncement having been made which led to the 
decision to leave Pontigny, the question was 
discussed whither they now should go. They 
seem to have been very cheerful in their difficulty,, 
one of them saying, to the amusement of the 
others, that they must go where they could, as 
they could not go where they would. Herbert's 
mind reverted to the interview he had had with 
King Louis ; and he reminded St. Thomas of the 
promises and offers which that King had made to 
him at Soissons two years before, which he had 
declined at the time. The Saint said, " It would 
seem, my brother, that you are looking out for 
the pleasures of a city and a King's Court, which 
hardly suit our bonds in the Gospel." He was. 

248 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap, 22 

however, persuaded that, as they had no choice 
left, it would be better to send Herbert on another 
visit to King Louis, as his first had been so 
successful. The King was travelling when Herbert 
found him ; and on the motives that made St. 
Thomas wish to move being told him, he cried 
out to those around him, " O religion, O religion, 
where art thou ? Those whom we believed to be 
dead to the world, fear its threats; and professing 
to despise the things that perish, for their sake 
turn back from the work of God which they had 
taken in hand, and drive God's exile from them." 
Then, turning to Herbert, he said, " Salute 3'our 
lord the Archbishop, and promise him in my 
name, that though the world and those who are 
dead to the world desert him, I will not. Let him 
tell us what city or castle or other place of our 
dominions he would prefer, and he shall find it 
prepared for him." The city of Sens, while Pope 
Alexander had resided there, had been frequently 
visited by them, and seemed to them to combine 
all that they could wish ; St. Thomas therefore 
chose the royal abbey of St. Columba, a small 
distance from Sens, famous as the resting-place 
of the holy virgin from whom it takes its name. 
Here he remained, living at the expense of the 
King of France,' from St. Martin's Day, No- 

I Gerv. p. 201. The Pope had recommended King Louis, in 
a letter from Montpellier, Aug. C, 1165, to assign to our Saint 
any French bishopric or abbey that might fall vacant (Materials, 
V. p. 198). The report was general at one time that he had been 
made Chancellor of France (Ibid. p. 421). The Pope blamed 
the Abbey of Pontigny and the Cistercian Order very severely 
for their timidity (Ibid. v. p. 426). 

II66] SENS. 249 

vember nth, 1166, until his exile was exchanged 
for martyrdom. 

After Easter in 1165, that is, when St. Thomas 
had been about six months at Pontigny, Pope 
Alexander departed from Sens on his way back 
to Rome, in answer to the request made to him 
by the Roman clergy and people. He left Mont- 
pellier after the Assumption, and entered Rome 
on the 23rd of November, amidst unusual festi- 
vities. He was not left there long in peace ; for 
in the following year the schismatical Emperor 
Frederic Barbarossa besieged the city, in order 
that he might place the Antipope on the chair of 
St. Peter. The siege being successful, the Pope 
was obliged to leave Rome ; and he went in the 
disguise of a pilgrim to Gaeta, and from thence 
to Benevento. It was not until 1171, when St. 
Thomas's labours were over, that he returned to 
Rome. Alan says, that on the Pope's departure, 
the Archbishop accompanied the Holy Father as 
far as Bourges ; and the further assertion of the 
same biographer cannot be otherwise than true, 
that this was the last time that they met upon 

While at Bourges, St. Thomas received hospi- 
tality from the canons of St. Outrille (Austre- 
gisilus), and they considered themselves abund- 
antly repaid by a miracle that was wrought at his 
invocation years afterwards on a young man 
attached to their church. This we learn from 
a letter^ of John of Salisbury to Prior Odo, 
written before 1175. The miracle was related at 
2 Will. Cant. p. 458. 

> u-i R A ^ 
or THE ^ 

250 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 22 

Bourges in the presence of the King of France at 
an assembly of Bishops and nobles, " where all 
were praising the liberality of the mart}^, his 
courtesy and magnificence towards men, his faith, 
his zeal for the law and the perseverance of the 
constancy which he had had in God from the 
beginning of his promotion." 

From Bourges the Pope addressed a letter ^ on 
the 17th of May, 1165, thanking the communit\'of 
Pontigny for all their kindness to the Archbishop, 
and begging that St. Thomas might find their 
charity ever more fervent, in spite of all threats and 
terrors. It was not with these hospitable monks 
only that the exiles met with kindness. William, 
the Archbishop of Sens, and the clergy and people, 
received them with much joy ; and they were 
entertained in so kind a manner in their new 
home, that Herbert, who is the only one of St. 
Thomas's biographers who was with him at this 
time, writes with much feeling the praises of 
" sweet France." Who can yet tell what graces 
that country has received and still receives from 
the glorified martyr, with whom in his trouble the 
w^arm-hearted nation so nobly sympathised ? 

The King's appeal had for some time past been 
prosecuted. He had sent John of Oxford to the 
Pope, who managed to convince the Holy Father 
that he had been guiltless of schismatic inter- 
course with the Emperor and his adherents ; and 
who justified himself for having accepted the 
deanery of Salisbury, in spite of the Pope's pro- 
hibition, by the extraordinary statement that he 
3 Materials, v. p. 172. 

ii66] SENS. 251 

had been forced to accept it by the Kin^^. How- 
ever, he resigned it into the Pope's hands ; and 
the Holy Father absolved him from his excom- 
munication, and himself conferred the deanery 
upon him, investing him with a gold ring by his 
own hand.-^ He afterwards boasted that he had 
received a personal exemption from the authority 
of the Archbishop of Canterbury or any other 

Having been thus successful with his own 
affairs, he prosecuted with great apparent success 
those of his master. The King's request was, 
that Legates might be appointed to hear and 
adjudge the whole case, especially requesting that 
the Cardinal William of Pavia might be one of 

St. Thomas had also his messengers and repre- 
sentatives with the Pope. He represented in 
several letters that the King of England had 
imprisoned a priest, who is called William the 
Chaplain,^ whose brother was on one occasion 
the bearer of letters ; and the Saint argued that 
the King was therefore ipso facto excommunicate. 
He also pleaded very warmly against any Legates 
being sent, and especially against William of 
Pavia. " May it please your Holiness not to 
expose our innocence to peril at the hands of my 
lord William of Pavia, through whom our perse- 

4 Matevials, vi. pp. 141, 170, 177. 

5 This is William of Salisbury, who as we have already seen, 
was kept in Corfe Castle for six months (Supra, p. 14). He was 
imprisoned in the diocese of Salisbury, which was therefore 
placed under interdict {Materials, vi. p. 32). The Pope wrote to 
the King requiring the release of the priest (Ibid. v. p. 169). 

252 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 22 

cutors boast that they will cause us to be deposed. 
Whether he is to come with such powers, we 
know not ; but this we know, that unless com- 
pelled by your Holiness, we shall never trust 
ourself to any judge except your Holiness. Far 
be it from the Church of God that such things 
should be accomplished, as a priest, who is one of 
the clerics of our above-named friend and lord, 
but just now has promised to the King of 
England, that as Legate he will determine the 
cause at issue between us to the King's liking. 
The brother of the priest who is in prison will 
communicate the rest. May it please your Holi- 
ness to compassionate ourself and them, and the 
whole Church of God."^ Similar letters were 
sent to the Cardinal Henry of Pisa, at whose 
persuasion, it will be remembered, St. Thomas 
accepted the archbishopric ; and to the Cardinals 
Hyacinth and Boso, who had been his constant 
friends in the Sacred College. 

St. Thomas had not been long at Sens when 
his messengers returned, who had been sent to 
oppose the appeal which John of Oxford was 
promoting in the King's name. They reported 
his absolution and restoration to the deanery of 
Salisbury, and that he had succeeded in obtaining 
from the Pope that Legates should be sent, and 
that the Cardinals, Wilham of Pavia, priest of 
St. Peter's Chains, and Otho, deacon of St. 
Nicholas in the Tullian Prison, should be ap- 
pointed. This was arranged towards the close of 
the year. The particular powers with which these 
6 Materials, vi. p. 53. 

ii66] SENS. 253 

Cardinals were to be intrusted it ^^'as not very 
easy for St. Thomas to ascertain. The letter^ 
which the Holy Father wrote to him to announce 
the appointment spoke of the peace which he 
hoped they would be able to effect between him- 
self and the King, bidding him give way in any- 
thing that would promote agreement, "saving 
your own and the Church's honour," as the letter 
twice qualifies it ; and it advises him to trust 
William of Pavia, for he had solemnly promised 
the Pope to do his utmost to promote an under- 
standing. The Pope's letter to the Bishops^ dated 
from the Lateran, December i, 1166, speaks 
more plainly of the powers of these Legates, as 
" persons dc latere nostra, with fulness of power to 
hear this cause and such others as they shall 
judge expedient, and to terminate them canoni- 
cally, as the Lord shall enable them." He added 
faculties by which any one whom St. Thomas 
had excommunicated might be absolved in danger 
of death, under the usual conditional oath of 
submitting themselves to the judgment of the 
Pope in case of recovery. In like manner, in his 
letter to the King,^ the Pope says that he has sent 
them " in the fulness of his power," and that he 
had "committed to them the fulfilment of his own 
office in all things, with that fulness with which 

7 Mateyials, vi. p. 123. 

8 Ibid. p. 88. 

9 Ibid. p. 125. A copy of this letter was sent to St. Thomas 
by a friend, under a strong injunction that he should show it to 
no one but Master Gunter, for so the transcriber had strictly 
promised Master Walter [perhaps de I'lsle] from whom he 
had it. 

254 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 22 

the Roman Church was accustomed to delegate," 
The tenour of these letters shows that John of 
Oxford was not without reason in boasting of his 
success. But he exaggerated it when he said 
that the King was exempted from the power of 
all bishops, so that the Pope alone could excom- 
municate him, and when he spoke of one Legate 
only, to be sent with full powers. Cardinal \\^illiam 
of Pavia, the Saint's avowed enemy. The ap- 
pointment of Cardinal Otho as co-Legate was 
held largely to mitigate the dangers arising from 
the hostility of the Cardinal of Pavia ; or, as the 
Bishop of Poitiers puts it,^° " The malice of one 
star, if not extinguished, is tempered and weak- 
ened by the conjuncture of another star, more 
propitious and favourable." 

The following account of the arrival of John of 
Oxford in England is from St. Thomas's own pen." 
The facts mentioned in it were related to him by 
the Bishop of Hereford's chaplain, a canon 
regular and a trustworthy person, vvhom the 
Bishop had sent over to make his excuses to the 
Archbishop for not appearing, in answer to three 
summonings which he had received from St. 
Thomas to appear in person before him by the 
Purification. " On his landing, he found our 
brother the Bishop of Hereford waiting for a 
wind to cross the water, and in concealment ; for 
the King's officers would have prevented his 
crossing openly. On finding him, he forbade him 
to proceed, first in the name of the King, and 
then of his Holiness the Pope. The Bishop then 

10 Materials, vi. p. 150. n Ibid. p. 147. 

ii66] SENS. 255- 

inquired, as I am assured by his messenger, who 
came afterwards to excuse his lordship's non- 
appearance, ' whether he had any letters to that 
effect.' He asserted that he had, and that the 
Pope forbade him, and the other Bishops as 
well, either to attend our summons or obey us in 
anything till the arrival of the Pope's Legate a 
latere, who had been obtained by the King, and 
was coming with full powers to determine the 
matter on which they had appealed, and the 
principal cause and all its incidents. The Bishop 
insisted on seeing the letters ; but he said that he 
had sent them on with his baggage to Win- 
chester, about twelve miles from Southampton. 
On considering the matter, the Bishop sent back 
his cleric to Winchester, Master Edward, in 
whose veracity I confide ; and he saw the letters 
in company with the Bishop of London, who was 
likewise waiting to cross the water. When the 
Bishop of London saw them, he said aloud, as 
if unable to restrain himself, ' Then Thomas shall 
be no more Archbishop of mine.' " 

And here we must interrupt the perusal of St. 
Thomas's letter to say that Robert de Melun 
returned to his see at Hereford, and there died. 
His death was caused, according to Fitzstephen,'- 
by mortification at not being allowed to obey the 
Archbishop's letter of summons. He died on the 
28th of February, 1167.'^ The see was kept vacant 

12 Fitzstephen, p. 87. 

13 Godwin, p. 483. It is clear from the events above narrated, 
that to assign the death of the Bishop of Hereford to the year 
1 166 {Materials, iii. p. 8?) must be an error, due probably to that 


six 3'ears ; and then Robert Foliot, cousin to the 
Bishop of London, who was at this time Arch- 
deacon of Oxford, succeeded him. 

The narrative in the Saint's letter continues 
thus: "John of Oxford added, that his own 
person was privileged, so that we had no power to 
excommunicate him, or even rebuke him, except 
in the Pope's presence; and that he might present 
the deanery of Salisbury to any one he pleased ; 
and that our authority was in all points curtailed 
till the Legates' arrival." 

This news produced the greatest consternation 
amongst all St. Thomas's friends. The Saint's 
own warm disposition led him to feel it deeply, 
and to express himself on the subject strongly. 
The letter from which the above extract is taken 
was written to one of his retinue, named John, 
who was representing him at Rome, and it con- 
tains the following reflections, which place before 
us in a strong light his disappointment and 
anxiety : 

" If this is true, then without doubt his lord- 
ship the Pope has suffocated and strangled, not 
only our own person, but himself and every 
ecclesiastic of both kingdoms, yea, both churches 
together, the French and the English. For what 
will not the Kings of the earth dare against the 
clergy under cover of this most wretched prece- 
dent ? And on what can the Church of Rome 
rely, when it thus deserts and leaves destitute the 

fertile source of misdatings, the ancient commencement of the 
new year on Lady day. On the Sth of January Robert Bishop 
of Lincoln also died (Hoved. fol. 293 b). 

iiGG] SENS. 257 

persons who are making a stand in its cause, and 
contending for it even unto death ? And what if 
anything should befall his Holiness the Pope, 
while the King and others are in possession of 
these privileges and exemptions ? They will be 
transmitted to posterity, from whose hands none 
will be able to wrest them. Nay more, let the 
Church say yea or nay, other princes will extort 
like privileges and exemptions for themselves, till 
in the end the liberty of the Church perishes, and 
with it the power and jurisdiction of the Bishops. 
For none will be at hand to coerce the wicked- 
ness of tyrants, whose whole efforts are at this 
day concentrated against God's Church and 
ministers. Nor will they desist till these are 
reduced to like servitude with the rest. 

" However, the result is as yet unseen ; what 
we do see is, that whether the above assertions 
are true or false, we, at any rate, are troubled 
above measure. No obedience or respect is now 
shown us in anything, either by the Bishops or 
Abbots, or any of the clergy ; as if our deposition 
was now a settled thing. Of one thing, however, 
let his lordship the Pope assure himself; no con- 
sideration shall induce us to enter the King's 
territories as a litigant, nor to accept our enemies 
as our judges, especially my lord of Pavia, who • 
thirsts for our blood, that he may fill our see, 
which, as we understand, is promised him in case 
he rids the King of us. There is another thing 
that grieves us. The great men of France — 
nobles, bishops, and other dignitaries — as if 
despairing of our cause, have sent back our un- 


■258 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 22 

happy co-exiles, whom their charity has sustained; 
and these must perish of cold and hunger, as 
some, indeed, have perished already. Be careful 
to impress all this upon his lordship the Pope, 
that if, as we even yet hope, some zeal of God 
remains with him, he may take steps to relieve 

John of Salisbury wrote the Holy Father a 
strong letter on the subject, and so did Lombard 
of Piacenza, the future Cardinal Archbishop of 
Benevento, who now styles himself "subdeacon of 
the Roman Church."'-^ The latter urged upon the 
Pope first the anger of the King of France, who 
declared that " his Holiness could not have given 
him greater molestation if the cause for which he 
was sending Legates had been to take away his 
own crown," After saying that the result was, 
that "the sweet savour of his Holiness's name 
was in part impaired," he adds, " and what makes 
matters still w^orse, it seems the general belief 
that the day of victory for his lordship of Canter- 
bury and your Holiness was at hand. For the 
King w^as so terrified when the da}' of appeal had 
lapsed, that he asserted that the Bishops had not 
engaged in it by his commands or advice, and 
that he would take no part with them in the 
matter. The Bishops, too, were in such a strait, 
and in such dread of an interdict, that some were 
sending messengers to his lordship of Canterbury, 
.and others were on their way to attend his sum- 
mons, when John of Oxford, as if with legatine 
•authority, forbade them to obey in your Holiness's 

14 Miiicrials, vi. pp. 176, 170; cf. ihid. p. 497. 

ii66] SENS. 259 

name. On this occasion the Bishop of Hereford 
was recalled, when he was actually at the sea-side 
waiting to cross." Finally, he says that he '' has 
often heard it asserted, and in many quarters, 
that the King's whole hope rests in your Holi- 
ness's misfortunes, and in what I pray God of 
His infinite mercy long to avert — your death ; for 
he asserts that he will never recognize your 
successor till all the dignities and customs of his 
realm have been acknowledged by him. And now 
it is believed that these Legates have been de- 
manded by him only in subtlety, that for the time 
he may evade excommunication and his realm an 
interdict ; and that thus he hopes, during your 
Holiness's life, to render void the Archbishop's 
authority, till he can make terms with your 



1 167. 

Double dealings of John of Oxford^imitation of the powers of 
the Cardinal Legates — their long journey — letter of William 
of Pavia and two draughts of an answer — the Cardinals visit 
St. Thomas at Sens and King Henry at Caen — meeting at 
Les Planches between the Cardinal Legates and the Saint — 
the Cardinals return to the King who shows them discourtesy 
— councils and conferences — fresh appeals — the Cardinals' 

Matters were not, however, really as bad as 
they seemed. John of Oxford was well known 
to St. Thomas to be so reckless and unscrupulous 
a person, that he currently went amongst the 
Archbishop's friends by the nickname of "the 
Swearer." Two of the King's envoys, John 
Cumin and Ralph of Tamworth, who left Rome 
on the 1st of January, and reached Poitiers by 
the Purification, told the Bishop of that place, 
who was one of St. Thomas's greatest friends, 
that John of Oxford ingratiated himself with the 
Pope, by suggesting that peace might be restored 
between the Archbishop and the King, if any one 
could be found to negotiate it faithfully ; having 
the effrontery to say, that he would undertake to 
do this himself. For this reason the other royal 
envoys loudly called him a traitor to the King; 


because for his own ends he promised to do 
what the King regarded as impossible. But after 
a while what was rumoured and suspected from 
the beginning became certain, that John of 
Oxford had gone much further, and in the King's 
name had sworn to all the Archbishop could 
have wished, before the Pope granted the lega- 
tion, with a view to pacification. Thus writes 
John of Salisbury to Milo Bishop of Therouanne:' 
" We hope in our Father, Who is Lord of all, 
that before long he will turn this storm into a 
gentle breeze ; although the Church's enemies 
boast that a worse shipwreck awaits us. It is 
not true to say that the Church of Rome has 
turned against us, and that our lord the Pope 
has assented to all the petitions of the King of 
England. Perhaps people were misled by finding 
that those who had been excommunicated were 
absolved at the return of John of Oxford ; and 
that he himself, as if he had done right in com- 
municating with the schismatical emperor, had 
had the deanery of Salisbury restored to him 
from the Pope's own hand. But any one who 
paid attention to what was done at Rome would 
see, that though the Pope was deceived, he al- 
ways faithfully upheld our cause and the Church's. 
Before John was absolved, he publicly swore (and 
I hope he did not perjure himself) that he had 
done nothing among the schismatics against the 
faith of the Church, or the honour and service 
of the Pope. He then produced commendatory 

I Materials, vi. p. 198. " Miloni Episcopo Morinorum." 
Therouanne was destroyed by Charles V. in 1553, as the old and 
very neat chronogram records : DeLctI Morlnl. 

262 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

letters and petitions from the King, which said 
that he was to be beheved with the credit that 
was due to the King himself. Acting on this 
authorit}-, he committed to the judgment of the 
Pope the cause at issue between the King and 
the Archbishop, respecting the wicked customs, 
that at his pleasure they should have all force 
or none, and that peace should be concluded 
^^•ith the Archbishop on the terms the Pope 
might dictate. When he had confirmed this 
with an oath, he obtained from his Holiness a 
promise that the legates should be sent. It is 
reported that they have been stopped on their 
way, in consequence of the discovery of the 
Swearer's treachery." How far King Henry was 
responsible for obtaining favours from the Pope 
on conditions which he never meant to fulfil, it 
is hard to say; most probably, John of Oxford, 
finding his powers ample, preferred an apparent 
success, gained through an unscrupulous oath, 
which he must have known his master would 
not ratify, to returning unsuccessful. Besides, 
the moment was critical. The legatine powers 
conferred upon St. Thomas w^ere bringing the 
Bishops to a sense of their duty ; and the King, 
who found the battle difiicult with the Archbishop 
alone, would have been unable to contend with 
the clergy of the kingdom, if united. It was 
therefore essential to gain some concession from 
the Pope, which should hamper St. Thomas, at 
least for a time ; and it was gained, though with 
a terrible violation of the sanctity of an oath. 
When these things reached the Pope's ears, 


notwithstanding the letters of remonstrance 
which have been ah'eady given, he was very 
unwilhng" to give up all hope of a reconciliation. 
John of Oxford had written to him to say that 
the King of England had liberated such eccle- 
siastics as he had imprisoned ; and that he was 
willing to confirm to the Church all that liberty 
which she had had in his realm in the time of 
King Henry his grandfather. This phrase, which 
makes its appearance now for the first time, though 
it is afterwards repeated, is but a quibble ; for 
the King professed to claim the Constitutions of 
Clarendon on the very ground that they were 
customs. Still it seemed to the Pope that peace 
might be concluded, and he therefore wrote - 
from Rome, on May 7, 1167, to the Cardinals,. 
William of Pavia and Otho, that their first duty 
was to console the Archbishop, and that their 
only task was to arrange this reconciliation to 
the satisfaction of both parties ; commanding ' 
them not to set foot in King Henry's dominions 
until the reconciliation had taken place. Similar 
instructions were sent to them from Benevento, 
on the 22nd of August. This was practically to 
take away the powers of the Legates, and to 
restore his libert}' to St. Thomas ; and Humbert, 
the Archdeacon of Bourges, afterwards Arch- 
bishop of Milan, and ultimately Pope Urban III., 
who went to meet them at Chateauroux, wrote tc^ 
the Archbishop, 3 that, as far as he could learn 
from them in person, such was the case. 

The year 1167 was far advanced before the J 

2 Materials, vi. pp. 200, 232. 3 Ibid. p. 202. 

264 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

Cardinals arrived who had been named legates in 
the previous December, but whose powers since 
May had been restricted to a mere mediation. 
Cardinal Otho wrote from Montpellier, where he 
was waiting for his co-legate William of Pavia, 
that his journey had been long because it had 
been necessary to go to Venice in disguise, owing 
to the state of Italy, where the Emperor was 
with his troops ; and that he had stayed some 
time at Brescia, his native place. This Cardinal 
St. Thomas did not dread as a mediator, as he 
did his colleague William of Pavia, who also 
wrote, but in a style that made the Saint seri- 
ously uneasy. Considering that they had no 
powers whatever, but were simply peacemakers, 
the following sentence left the impression that 
its writer intended to assume an authority that 
did not belong to him, which, as he was noto- 
riously a partisan, might have serious conse- 
quences : " Our venerable brother Otho, Cardinal 
Deacon, and ourself are on our way to his (the 
King's) territory, with a commission to determine 
the questions at issue between your lordship and 
himself, as shall seem to us best for the interests 
of the Church of God ; and we would seriously 
press your lordship, as far as in you lies, to avoid 
all steps that may tend to widen the breach, but 
zealously to co-operate in whatever may facilitate 
an arrangement." To this letter St. Thomas 
prepared two several answers, but they were 
never sent ; for John of Salisbury, whom the 
Saint consulted respecting them, freely con- 
demnedithem, as far too severe and not respectful 


enough to be sent to a cardinal-legate ; and he 
himself suggested a substitute. There is scarcely 
anything so beautiful in the life of St. Thomas as 
the spirit in which he received and encouraged ■< 
John of Salisbury's constant and free criticisms 
on himself and his proceedings. 

As the Cardinals had to pass by Sens, they 
naturally visited St. Thomas first. They had to 
thank the intercession of the Saint with King 
Louis for their liberty of passing through France, 
which that King was strongly inclined to refuse. 
They then went on to visit King Henry, who 
was at Caen ; with whom they spent a long time 
without sending the Archbishop any account of 
their proceedings. This was quite in accordance 
with the idea which the friends of St. Thomas 
entertained, that the King's sole object was to 
protract all negotiations, and that he was insin- 
cere in treating about terms of reconciliation at 
all. However, St. Thomas was summoned by 
them to a conference, to be held on the confines 
of France and Normandy, at a spot between the 
towns of Trie and Gisors. 

On the night before the conference the Arch- 
bishop dreamed, as he told his companions on 
the way, that poison was offered him in a golden 
cup. In the course of the day, they thought 
they saw it verified in the person of the Cardinal 
William of Pavia, whose proposals were plausible 
and elegantly put, though they were destructive 
of the liberty of the Church. The King of France 
was himself present at the interview, and he had 
provided for the Archbishop's accommodation. 

266 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

In a letter, in which St. Thomas himself describes 
this interview to the Pope, he sa3'S that his ene- 
mies tried to wear him out with journeys and 
expenses ; and that, as he and his fellow-exiles 
had but three horses at their disposal, he was 
obliged to ask for another week, besides the ten 
days' warning which the Legates gave him. At 
this slight delay, King Henry, it would be hard 
to say why, took offence. When King Louis 
learned the straits to which the Archbishop was 
reduced, he amply provided him with means to 
travel with his fellow-exiles to the appointed 
place of conference. " God in the richness of 
His mercy reward him," wrote St. Thomas to 
the Pope. 

At the interview, which was held at Les 
Planches on the i8th of November, 1167, the 
Legates were attended only by the Archbishop of 
Rouen, the King of England having kept about 
him such of the English Bishops as he had 
summoned, who were all St. Thomas's greatest 
enemies, — the Archbishop of York, and the 
Bishops of London, Chichester, and Salisbury, 
with, for appearance' sake, the Bishop of Wor- 
cester. Many, however, of lower rank represented 
the King's interest at the conference. 

St. Thomas was accompanied by John of 
Salisbury, Herbert of Bosham, Lombard of Pi- 
acenza, Alexander the Welshman, Geoffrey prior 
and Guarin canon of Pentney, Robert and Gil- 
bert canons, the two last named being the 
Archbishop's chaplains, John the Cantor, Alan, 
Richard, Henr}- and many others. 


We have the fullest accounts of all that passed, \ 
as both parties sent their reports to the Pope, 
and John of Salisbury has recorded the trans- 
actions in two documents.^ The Legates opened 
conference by dwelling at some length on the 
charity of the Pope and their own anxiety for 
peace and for the safety of the Archbishop of 
Canterbury and his companions. They then 
spoke of the difficulties of their journey, which 
had been ver}^ long. They had left Rome in the 
middle of March, ^ and it was November when 
they reached Normandy. They then approached 
the matter before them b}- enlarging on the great- 
ness of the King of England, his inflexibility, the 
badness of the times, the necessities of the 
Church, which, in every part of the world but 
France, was beset with enemies. They spoke, 
too, of the many favours the King in times past 
had delighted to heap upon the Saint : and they 
recounted the wrongs of which Henry now com- 
plained. Amongst the latter he reckoned the 
war which had broken out between himself and 
both the King of France and the Earl of Flan- 
ders, which he attributed to St. Thomas. They 
ended b}- asking his advice how they might them- 
selves hope to recover the favour of the King, 
whose displeasure they had incurred when he 
found that their powers were not as extensive as 
John of Oxford had led him to expect. "With- 

4 Materials, vi. pp. 2S1, 245, 256, 261. 

5 The Bishop of Poitiers had been told by John Cumin and 
Ralph of Tamworth that they left Rome on the ist of January, 
11O7 {Materials, vi. pp. 123, 147). 

268 ST. THONfAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

out much humility and moderation," they said, 
with the view, it was thought, either of frighten- 
ing or provoking the Archbishop, "and without 
showing so great a prince very much honour, 
they would not be able to appease his indignation 
or find a remedy for so many dangers." 

St. Thomas rose, and with great calmness, yet 
with his eyes sparkling and the colour in his 
face, addressed the Legates in Latin with fluency 
and elegance. He opened his reply by thanking 
themselves and the Pope for the interest they 
took in him and his fellow-exiles. He answered 
their address point by point, showing the ground- 
lessness of the King's complaints and exposing 
the wrongs of the Church. With regard to the 
war, in order to deprive such reports of any 
colour of probability, for a long time past he 
had purposely abstained from all personal inter- 
course with the King of France, the only recent 
instance being the interview in which he had 
obtained a safe-conduct for the Legates at their 
request. This matter was further confirmed the 
next day by the appearance of King Louis in 
person before the Legates ; and he there asserted 
on oath that the Archbishop of Canterbury had 
always counselled peace, on such terms as should 
secure the honour of the two Kings and the 
tranquillity of their people. 

St. Thomas expressed himself as ready to show 
to the King all such humility and loyal obedience 
as was consistent with the honour of God and 
the Apostolic See, the liberty of the Church, the 
dignity of his office, and the preservation of 


Church property ; and, if this seemed too much 
or too httle, he promised to be guided by the 
advice of the Legates, as far as his circumstances 
and profession permitted. The Legates rephed 
that they had not come to give him counsel, but 
to take counsel with him and to promote a 

William of Pavia then asked whether, " inas- 
much as we are not better than our fathers," 
the Saint would not in their presence promise 
to observe to King Henry whatever customs his 
predecessors had observed to former kings. All 
questions would then be at an end, and he might 
return to his see in peace. The Archbishop's 
answer was that none of his predecessors had 
ever been forced to make such a promise to any 
king ; and as for himself, by God's help he would 
never promise to observe customs that were 
clearly contrary to the laws of God, that over- 
threw the rights of the Holy See, and destroyed 
the liberty of the Church. In the presence of 
the Cardinals themselves and of many others 
the Pope at Sens had condemned these customs, 
and had absolved the Archbishop from his pro- 
mise, and the Saint added that the Pope had 
then used an expression worthy of his apos- 
tolic office, which please God he would never 
forget, that he should have bent his neck to 
the . executioner sooner than have given con- 
sent to such wickedness and for temporal ad- 
vantages or for the love of life have abandoned 
his priestly duty. The Constitutions of Clarendon 
that had been condemned were then read, and 

270 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. 'chap. 23 

St. Thomas asked the Legates whether a priest 
could observe them without perilling his order 
and his salvation. The Cardinal of Pavia recom- 
I mended the Saint to resign his see ; which, St. 
Thomas answered, would be to abandon the cause 
of the Church. He also refused to return to Can- 
terbury without anything being said on either 
side of the subjects in dispute, quoting the 
English proverb, " Silence gives consent." 

They then proceeded to ask, whether the Saint 
would submit to their judgment as to the points 
in dispute between himself and the King. The 
question placed him in the dilemma of submitting 
to an arbitrator like the Cardinal William of 
Pavia, whom he knew to be a partisan of the 
King's, or of refusing an arbitration in what 
might seem a factious manner. His answer was, 
that before any such arbitration should take place, 
restitution must first be made of all the Church 
property which had been unjustly taken away ; 
and that then he would be prepared to submit 
to the judgment of an}- one whom his Holiness 
might appoint. 

The Legates finally asked the Archbishop if, in 
case of another appeal being made by the 
Bishops, he would consent to their hearing evi- 
dence upon it, and adjudging it. The Saint had 
already heard a rumour of the nature of this 
appeal, which it was proposed to make in the 
name of the Bishops of England. As he was 
aware, but a very few were assembled at Rouen, 
and most of the other Bishops knew nothing of 
it ; while of those who did know of it, many dis- 


approved it, as being rather an evasion than an 
appeal. For these reasons he answered, that he 
had received no instructions from the Pope upon 
the subject ; but that on receiving them, he 
would return such an answer as he might judge 
reasonable. In conclusion, the povert}' of him- 
self and his friends disabled them from under- 
taking law-suits and expensive journeys ; nor 
would he consent to encroach on the bounty of 
the King of France by asking him to maintain 
them in other men's houses. The Archbishop 
parted from the Legates with mutual expressions 
of good-will. 

The Cardinals*^ now returned to the King. On 
the Thursday after the interview, they arrived at 
the monastery of Bee ; the day after, at Lisieux ; 
the third day, at St. Pierre-sur-Dives ; the fourth 
day, that is, the Sunday before Advent, they 
passed through Argentan. The King came out 
two leagues to meet them ; and welcoming them 
cordially, attended each to his lodgings. 

The day following, that is, Monda}', the 27th 
of November, early in the morning, after Mass, 
they were invited to attend the King, and entered 
the council-chamber with the Archbishops, 
Bishops, and Abbots who had admission. On 
their reappearance, after a space of about two 
hours, the King came out as far as the outer 
door of the chapel, and there said publicly in 
the hearing of the Legates, " I trust my eyes may 
never light upon another Cardinal." In such 
haste was he to get quit of them, that, though 
6 Materials, vi. p. 269. 

272 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

their house was at no great distance, he would not 
await the arrival of their horses, but mounted 
them upon the first that could be found near 
the chapel. Thus the Cardinals took their de- 
parture, with four attendants at the most. 

The Archbishops, Bishops, and Abbots stayed 
with the King, and re-entered the council-cham- 
ber, where they remained till evening. After 
this, they visited the Cardinals, all in evident 
confusion ; then, after remaining some time, they 
returned to their houses. The day following they 
were closeted with the King till twelve o'clock ; 
then visited the Cardinals ; then returned to the 
King, and again to the Cardinals, carrying secret 
messages backwards and forwards. The day 
after, that is, the vigil of St. Andrew, the King 
rose at daybreak, and went out to hunt and 
hawk, so that it was surmised that he absented 
himself on purpose. Very early the Bishops met 
at the chapel-royal, and adjourned to the council- 
chamber ; here they deliberated in the King's 
absence, and then withdrew to the church, near 
which the Cardinals lodged. 

When the Cardinals had taken their seats to 
hear what was proposed, and the others were 
arranged on each side, the Archbishops of Rouen 
and York, the Bishops of Worcester, Salisbury, 
Bayeux, London, Chichester, and Angouleme, 
with very many Abbots, and a great multitude 
both of clergy and laity, at length the Bishop 
of London rose, his pointless and inelegant ora- 
tion sufficiently evincing the troubled state of 
his mind. He opened it as follows: 


" Your lordships have heard that letters were 
brought to us from his Holiness the Pope, which 
we have now in our hands, in which his Holiness 
signified to us, that on receiving 3-our summons 
we should come to meet you, for that your 
lordships were intrusted with full powers to 
decide the cause now pending between his lord- 
ship the King and my lord of Canterbury, and 
also that between the Bishops of England and 
the same Archbishop. 

" In consequence, as soon as we heard of your 
arrival in these parts, we hastened to meet you, 
ready to abide by your decision, and to take our 
parts as well in accusation as defence. In like 
manner, my lord the King is prepared to ratify 
any sentence which you may pronounce respect- 
ing himself and his lordship of Canterbury. 
Since, then, no impediment is raised on the part 
either of the King or of your lordships or of 
ourselves, to thwart his Holiness's instructions, 
let the blame rest where it is due. 

" But because, with his accustomed precipita- 
tion, the Archbishop strikes before he threatens, 
suspends and excommunicates before he admon- 
ishes, for this reason we anticipate his headlong } 
sentence by an appeal. We have appealed already! 
before this, and we renew our appeal now ; and 
in this appeal all England includes itself." 

He then spoke of the claim raised by the King 
for the sum of forty-four thousand marks on ac- 
count of revenues which passed into St. Thomas's 
hands as Chancellor ; and he was witty at the 
Saint's expense, saying, that he apparently believed 

274 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

that promotion remitted debts, as baptism does 
sins. He proceeded to the danger of a schism, 
in case of severe measures against the King ; and 
he complained that the Archbishop defamed the 
King respecting the statutes of Clarendon, pro- 
testing publicly that the King would relax the 
statute which forbade appeals ; that it was only 
for the sake of the poorer clergy that he had 
enacted it, and now that they were ungrateful for 
it, he would annul it; and that if the cause was 
civil, they should contend before a civil judge ; 
if ecclesiastical, they might choose their own 
court, and contend as they would. 

Lastly, he said that St. Thomas imposed unfair 
burdens upon him, commanding him to disperse 
his briefs through England, and that forty cou- 
riers were not enough for this ; and, as a further 
grievance, that he had withdrawn from his juris- 
diction nearly sixt)' churches, on the ground that 
the\^ had formerly paid rents to Holy Trinity or 
St. Augustine's; and that he had his Dean" in 
the City of London to judge the causes of these 
exempt churches, and thus undermined the autho- 
rity of the Bishop, who was in this manner more 
aggrieved than any other Bishop. 

The Legates stated that they had no powers 
to act as judges over the Archbishop, but only 
as mediators : on which, the Bishops named 
St. Martin's in the following year as the term 
of their appeal, that is, November nth, 1168. 
The Bishop of Salisbury joined in the appeal, 

7 This official of the Archbishop is the well known Dean of 
ihe Arches. 


in his own name and that of the Bishop of Win- 
chester, A cleric of Geoffrey Ridel, Archdeacon 
of Canterbury, appealed in the name of his 
master ; so, probabl}' to in^^ratiate himself with 
the King, did one of the monks of Christ Church, 
Canterbury, who had been sent to the court to 
implore Henry's protection against the exactions 
of the infamous Randulf de Broc, This monk 
had at the same time another commission. Prior 
Wibert had died September 27, 1167, and the 
Convent of Christ Church now sent to the King 
about the appointment of a new prior. John of 
Salisbury wrote ^ to reproach the monks for their 
disloyalty to their Archbishop, and said that those 
who heard their representative join in the 
appeal of the Bishops, scoffed at him, saying 
that it was almost hereditary for the monks of 
Canterbury to hate their Archbishop. " They 
had been no comfort to Anselm when twice exiled 
for justice sake. They had despised Ralph, 
hated William, set snares for Theobald, and now 
for no reason they persecuted Thomas." 

When the conference was over, the Cardinals 
sent two messengers to St. Thomas, who, on the 
day after the feast of St. Lucy, December 14th, 
delivered to him letters^ prohibiting him, in the 
Pope's name and their own, from issuing any 
excommunication or interdict until the Pope had 
been consulted. 

The Bishops also sent two messengers, Walter, 
precentor of Salisbur}-, and Master Jocelin, chan- 
cellor of Chichester, to announce the appeal, and 

8 Materials, vi. p. 301. 9 Ibid. pp. 284, 277. 

276 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 23 

renew it in the Archbishop's presence ; but he 
would not give them a hearing ; first, because 
one of the Bishops was London, whom he re- 
garded as excommunicate, and had denounced 
as such to the Cardinals ; secondly, because thej- 
had held communion with excommunicates whose 
absolution had been fraudulent. 

The Archbishop wrote back to the Cardinals, 
that he well knew, and that they could not be 
ignorant, how far their commands were binding 
on him ; and that by God's grace he should act 
as he thought most for the interest of the Church. 
He sent them also a verbal message by their 
messengers and his own, finding fault with their 
conduct for manifold and obvious causes. Like- 
wise he called on them to fulfil the Pope's in- 
structions about the excommunicates, either 
urging them to satisfaction, or replacing them 
under sentence. 

The Cardinals left the King on the same Tues- 
day after Vespers. On their departure, the King 
entreated them most humbly that they would 
intercede with the Pope to rid him of St. Thomas 
altogether. In asking this, he shed tears in the 
presence of the Cardinals and others. William 
of Pavia seemed to weep too ; but Cardinal Otho 
could scarcely conceal his amusement. 




Absolutions of excommunicated persons— proposed translation 
of St. Thomas — messengers to the Pope from both sides — 
conferences between the two Kings at Nantes — John of Salis- 
bury, Herbert of Bosham and Philip of Calne have inter- 
views with King Henry — the Pope suspends the Saint's 
powers — St. Thomas expostulates with the Pope. 

The departure of the Cardinals left matters 
balanced much as they were before their arrival, 
although eventually their commission resulted in 
the most serious reverse St. Thomas experienced. 
He had now cause of complaint to the Pope, that 
the Legates had, as far as their power went, sus- 
pended him from all authority. On the other hand, 
the King was apparently not unwilling to give 
up the two most obnoxious articles of Clarendon: | 
that which prevented appeals to the Pope, and 
that which required the clergy to plead in the 
secular courts, even in ecclesiastical causes. The 
Cardinals, however, still continuing in the neigh- 
bourhood, application was made to them for 
absolution by persons, who, after being excommu- 
nicated by St. Thomas, had been absolved in 
England. This absolution had been principally 
obtained from the Bishop of Llandaff, on John of 

2/8 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 24 

Oxford's return from Rome, in virtue of a frau- 
dulent interpretation of the powers sent by the 
Pope in favour of those who were in peril of 
death, and who should make oath to obey the 
orders of the Holy See on their recovery. All 
parties now regarding these absolutions as invalid, 
the Cardinals William and Otho issued' orders 
to the Bishops of Norwich and Chichester to 
repeat them after a similar oath. The Pope,^ who 
had been informed by St. Thomas of what had 
taken place, ordered them to replace the censure, 
unless the parties should at once make restitution 
of the Church property they had usurped. This 
letter was sent^ to the Legates by St. Thomas, 
first, copies by a canon regular of St. John's, and 
then the originals by Osbert, a subdeacon of the 
Hoi}' See ; but the Cardinals said that the Church 
revenues had been received by the King's man- 
date and authority, and therefore that, as long as 
they were in his territor}-, it was impossible to do 
justice on the usurpers. Cardinal Otho was now 
plainly either over-persuaded by his colleague, or 
over-awed by the King, for the present proceed- 
ings are inexcusable. 

With regard to the proposal of William of 
Pavia, that the Saint should be translated to 
another see, which had been taken up in some 
quarters rather warmly, and amongst others, to 
St. Thomas's great mortification, by the Bishop 
of Worcester, he wrote in these striking t?erms : 
*' We wish our lord the Pope and our other 

I Materials, vi. p. 30O. 
2 Ibid. p. 311. 3 Ibid. p. 315. 

Ii68] MEANWHILE, 279 

friends to know, and do }ou take care to impress 
it upon them, that sooner than suffer ourself to 
be torn from our Mother the Church of Canter- 
bury, which has nourished and raised us to our 
present station, God the inspector of hearts 
knoweth we would consent to be slaughtered. 
Let them waste no labour on such a prospect, for 
there is no calamit}- which we would not prefer 
to that. You may inform them also, that if every 
other grievance were removed, yet so long as that 
man retains the possession of our own or any 
other church in his dominions, we would rather 
die any death than basely live and suffer him to 
enjoy them with impunity." In a letter'* written 
not very long before, the Saint had represented to 
the Pope that the King held in his own hands noi 
less than seven vacant bishoprics in the two pro- 
vinces of Canterbury and Rouen. 

Meanwhile messengers on both sides were con- 
stantly going to and from Benevento, where thej 
Pope was. To use Herbert's graphic words, 
" The threshold of the Apostles was worn by our 
messengers and by our adversaries : both parties 
run to and fro, hurry and bustle. Some of both 
die on the way, but others succeed them, and on 
both sides the number increases. And to speak 
of our own people only, the multitude of our 
fellow-exiles afforded us such a supply of messen- 
gers, that it seemed as if God had permitted so 
many to be banished for our advantage. Here 
was a poor Archbishop and his ragged and 
wretched fellow-exiles showing a brave resistance 
4 Materials, vi. p. 253. 

28o ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 24 

to citizens and kings, to cardinals and persons of 
wealth ; and I then at least learned that gold and 
silver cannot be brought into comparison with a 
man of learning and energy, let him be as poor as 
he may." 

John of Salisbury, in May 1168, wrote the fol- 
lowing account 5 of the proceedings at Benevento 
to the Bishop of Exeter, with whom he kept up 
an active and friendly correspondence : " Both 
parties were courteously received ; but the King's 
envoys, as their cause was worse, so their pomp 
and ostentation was greater; and when they found 
that they could not move his lordship the Pope by 
flattery or promises, they had recourse to threats; 
intimating that the King would follow the errors 
of Noureddin, and enter into communion with a 
profane religion, sooner than allow Thomas to 
act any longer as Bishop in the Church of Can- 
terbury. But the man of God could not be 
shaken by terror any more than seduced by- 
flattery. He set before them the alternative of 
life and death, and said that, though he could not 
prevent their choosing the way of those that 
perish, despising the grace and patience of God, 
yet by the grace of God, for his part, he 
would not recede from the right wa}-. Their 
spirit then quickly subsided ; and, as they 
perceived that they could not make any pro- 
gress this way against justice, they sent envoys 
to the King of Sicily, with the King's letters 
which they had brought as their credentials, in 
the hope that the King and Queen of Sicily might 

5 Materials, vi. p. 40C. 

ii68] " MEANWHILE." 281 

aid them in obtaining something from his lord- 
ship the Pope to the prejudice of the Church. 
But his most Christian Majesty the King of the 
French, presaging this wicked pohcy, had written 
to the Archbishop elect of Palermo, identifying 
himself with the cause of the Church and of the 
Archbishop of Canterbury. What has been the 
success of either party is as yet unknown. In the 
mean time messengers arrived from the Legates 
whom the King of England had procured from 
the Pope, but did not at all agree in their 
accounts ; for whatever one said in the Pope's 
Court, the other unsaid. But there is nothing 
certain known about these either, as to the 
answers they will bring back to their respective 
masters. Supplication was made to the Pope, 
on the part of the King and the Legates, backed 
with other interest, in behalf of the Bishop of 
Salisbury; and at length it was conceded that the 
Pontiff would pardon him his offence, and write 
to his lordship of Canterbur}', requesting and 
counselling him to take off the sentence of sus- 
pension, and to receive him back into his favour 
and affection, on condition that he gives security 
in his own person, and sends two of the principal 
clerics of his church, the Dean being excepted, to 
make oath that the Bishop has ordered them, and 
not afterwards revoked the order, to swear in his 
name and stead that he will make satisfaction to 
the Archbishop for his contumacy and miscon- 
duct. From this it may be surmised that the 
Pope was either ignorant of the sentence of the 
legates, by which they absolved the aforesaid 

282 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. ^chap. 24 

Bishop, or that he did not think fit to ratify it. 
The same Bishop had before obtained letters 
near!}' to the same effect, which, however, did not 
impose upon him the oath ; but these he did not 
think fit to use, either because they were dis- 
pleasing to the King, or else that they were 
not considered sufficient. What award each part}' 
would bring back was unknown, when the bearer 
of the aforesaid letters returned ; but his lordship 
the Pope has written to his most Christian 
Majesty that he will not fail the Church of God 
nor his friend of Canterbury, whenever he can 
uphold him with justice." 

Various conferences were now held between 
the principal nobles of both kingdoms, and finally 
between the two Kings of England and France, 
at Mantes, on the 12th of May, the Sunday after 
the Ascension, with a view to promote peace. 
Probably about this time, though it may very 
possibly have happened in one of the previous 
3-ears,^ an effort was made by the intercession of 
King Louis to reconcile some of the Archbishop's 
followers to King Henry, that so the revenues of 
their benefices, of which they stood in great need, 
might be restored to them. Henry gave them a 
safe-conduct for going and coming to and from 
Angers, where he had spent Easter. On Lo\\' 
Sunday the King gave them audience. The 

G Canon Robertson assigns it to 1166, in which case the date 
of Low Sunday would be May i. Fitzstephen places it after the 
events of 1169, but he has placed the excommunications of 1169 
before the conference at Les Planches in 1167, so that his order 
of events cannot be relied on (Matciials, iii. p. 98). 

ii6S] *' MEANWHILE." 283 

first who was introduced was John of Salis- 
bury, who, after sakiting the King, begged for 
a peaceable restitution of his benefices, as he 
had never wilfully offended him, but was ever 
ready to be faithful and loyal to him, as his 
earthly lord, saving his order. On the King's 
part it was answered him, that he was born in 
the King's dominions, that his relations there 
had their subsistence, and that there he him- 
self had risen to riches and station : therefore, 
as a subject of the King, he ought to have been 
faithful to him against the Archbishop and every 
one else. An oath was then proposed to him, 
that he would be faithful to the King in life and 
limb, and in preserving his earthly honour against 
all men ; and expressly that he would lawfully 
keep his written customs and royal dignities, let 
the Pope, or the Archbishop, or his own Bishop, 
do what they might. He replied, that he had 
been brought up from his youth by the Church of 
Canterbury, that he was sworn to the obedience 
of the Pope and of his Archbishop, and that he 
could not desert them, nor could he promise to 
observe the customs ; but he was willing to pledge 
himself to receive whatever the Pope and the 
Archbishop received, and to reject what they 
rejected. This did not satisfy the King, so he 
received orders to leave. This unsuccessful visit, 
John of Salisbury afterwards complained, cost 
him thirteen pounds and two horses, which he 
could ill afford. He had previousl}- consented to 
leave the Court of the Archbishop, but he had 
constantly refused the terms that were now 
offered to him. 


Master Herbert of Bosham was called for, and 
entered. The King said to those near him, " Now 
we shall see a specimen of pride." Tall and 
striking in person, he had on a dress peculiarly 
calculated to set it off; a tunic, and above it a 
mantle of the green cloth of Auxerre hanging 
over his shoulders, and reaching, after the Ger- 
man fashion, to his ankles. After the usual salu- 
tation, he took his seat ; was interrogated in the 
same manner with John, and made for the most 
part the same answers. On mention of loyalty 
and the Archbishop, he said that the Archbishop 
above all men was most especially loyal, for that 
he had not suffered his majesty to go astray 
unwarned. Of the customs he said as John had, 
and added that he wondered the King had put 
them in writing. " For in other kingdoms like- 
wise there are evil customs against the Church ; 
but they are not written, and for this reason there 
is hope, by God's grace, that they may become 

The King, wishing to take him in his words, 
asked, " And what are the evil customs in the 
kingdom of our lord the King of France ? " 

Herbert. "The exaction of toll and passage 
from the clergy and pilgrims. Again, when a 
Bishop dies, all his movable goods, even the 
doors and windows of his house, become the 
King's. So, in the realm of the King of the 
Germans, though these and similar evil customs 
exist, they are not written." 

The King. " Why do you not call him by his 
proper title, the Emperor of Germany? " 

1168] "meanwhile." 285 

Herbert. " His title is King of Germany; and 
when he styles himself Emperor, it is ' Emperor 
of the Romans, the ever-august/ " 

Tlic King. " This is abominable. Is this son 
of a priest to disturb my kingdom and disquiet 
my peace ? " 

Herbert. " It is not I that do it ; nor, again, am 
I the son of a priest, as I was born before my 
father entered orders ; nor is he a King's son, 
whose father was no King when he begat him." 

Here Jordan Tarsun, one of the barons sitting 
by, said, " Whosesoever son he is, I would give 
half my barony he were mine." This speech 
made the King angry, but he said nothing. After 
a little he dismissed Herbert, who withdrew. 

Philip of Calne, entered next. He was by 
birth a Londoner, and for two years before 
the Archbishop's exile he had studied in the 
Holy Scriptures at Tours,'' at which place he 
had also taught law. He was a man of great 
reading and very eloquent, but in poor health, 
and on this account he had not accompanied the 
Archbishop, nor had he been sent to Rome, nor 
mixed up in proceedings against the King. All 
this was explained to Henry, and he had influ- 
ential advocates, who reported to his majesty 
that he had said, when he heard that his property 
in England had been confiscated on the Arch- 

7 Tours is probably a mistake of Fitzstephen's for Rheims. 
Philip was recommended by St. Thomas to Fulk Dean of 
Rheims, whom the Saint afterwards thanks for his kindness to 
him. John of Salisbury speaks of Philip as living at Rheims 
{Materials, v. pp. 166, 258, 422). 

286 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 24 

bishop's account, " Good God, what does our 
good King look for from me ? " The King was 
anxious not to seem to have granted nothing 
graciously, so he remitted the oath which had 
been proposed to the others, and restored Philip 
to his favour and to his possessions. He then 
rose, and turned to other business. 

If it was in this year, 1168, that this attempt 
was made to restore the Archbishop's followers 
to Henry's favour, its resumption was rendered 
impossible by the news which reached the King 
from the Pope in the middle of the summer. 
His envoys — Clarembald, the Abbot-elect of 
St. Augustine's, whom, it will be remembered, 
St. Thomas had refused to bless as abbot several 
years before; Reginald, Archdeacon of Salisbury; 
Simon de la Chartre, and Henry of Northampton 
—had unexpectedly returned with letters from 
the Pope, not only confirming the prohibition 
placed upon St. Thomas by the Legates, which 
was a virtual suspension, but actually suspending 
the Archbishop by his Apostolic authorit}-. It 
was conveyed to the King in these words :^ 
" We, however, are unable to forget our fatherly 
affection for your person, but wish in all things, 
as far as duty will permit, to honour and attend 
to you as a Catholic Prince and most Christian 
King ; and in the sure hope and belief that your 
discreet prudence will perceive how in the things 
of God and those which pertain to the Church, 
it is more glorious to be conquered than to 
conquer ; and confiding that He, in whose hands 

S Miifcn'iils, vi. p. 377. 

ii68] "meanwhile." 287 

are the hearts of kings, will deign to mitigate 
your indignation, we have laid our commands 
on the Archbishop, and altogether inhibited him 
from attempting, on any account, to put forth 
either against yourself, or your land, or the 
nobles of your realm, any sentence of interdict 
or excommunication, until you take him back 
into your favour, and he is reconciled to you, 
or from presuming in any matter to aggrieve 

"And since it is certain that those letters, 
which we last addressed to your magnificence 
by your envoys, a year ago, are for the future 
without force : if, in the meantime, the aforesaid 
Archbishop shall in any matter presume to 
aggrieve yourself or the nobles of your realm, 
you are at liberty to show these present letters 
in attestation of our pleasure, and to demonstrate 
that you and \-ours are beyond the reach of his 

If the Holy Father thought that an appeal to 
the King's generosity or honour was likely to be 
successful, when he pointed out to him that 
" it was more glorious to be conquered than to 
conquer," he must have been sadly disappointed. 
He published the letter as widely as he could, 
sending it to all the churches and dignitaries of 
both kingdoms ; although the Pope only gave 
him liberty to do so, " if the Archbishop should 
aggrieve him ; " and although his envoys had 
sworn that it should be kept secret, and the 
Pope had commanded them so to keep it, in 
virtue of their obedience and under peril of an 

288 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 24 

anathema ; so that Master Geoffrey, one of the 
clerics of the Cardinal, William of Pavia, openl}^ 
protested "that they had perjured themselves 
and incurred an anathema."' 

The Pope had never been suspected for a 
moment of being moved by any inferior motive ; 
but the King was so elated with this his triumph, 
that lie could not refrain from naming those of 
the Cardinals who had accepted his gold, and 
those personages who were his agents in dis- 
pensing bribes. John of Salisbury wrote to 
Master Lombard, who was with the Pope, 
" Would that my lords the Cardinals were within 
hearing of the French ; among v/hom it has 
become a proverb, that the princes of the Church 
are faithless and companions of thieves — Ecclesice 
brincipcs infidclcs, socii fnrnm,'^ for they authorize 
the plunder of Christ's patrimony, to share in it 
themselves." The same writer also says to the 
Bishop of Poitiers, " The King himself told the 
Bishop of Worcester, that he and the other 
Bishops were exempted from the jurisdiction of 
the Archbishop ; and bade them fear no threats, 
for that he had his lordship the Pope and all 
the Cardinals in his purse. So elated is he, that 
he boasts openly of having at last obtained the 
prerogatives of his grandfather, who was, in his 
own realms, at once apostolic legate, patriarch, 
and emperor, and whatever else he chose." 

The letter '° of the Holy Father to St. Thomas 

9 "Thy princes arc faithless, companions of thieves: they all 
love bribes, and run after rewards" (Isaias i. 23). 

10 Materials, vi. p. 421. 

n68] " MEANWHILE." 28g 

announcing the step he had taken, is dated Bene- 
vento, the 19th of May, 1168. It differs in a 
material point from that sent to the King. In 
the latter the suspension ran, " until you take 
him back into your favour, and he is reconciled to 
you ; " in that to the Archbishop it was, that his 
powers were suspended, until he should receive 
other apostolic letters to empower him to act, 
which were promised, if peace had not been 
arranged before the beginning of next Lent. The 
Pope had always confided much in the reality of 
the promises of reconciliation so freely made by 
the King of England's envoys ; and he probably 
thought that the step he was now taking would 
have the desired result, and at once end the 
suspension of the Archbishop. 

The following" was St. Thomas's expostulation 
with the Pope on what was by far the hardest 
trial he had yet had to bear : 

" O my father, my soul is in bitterness ; the 
letters by which your Holiness was pleased to 
suspend me have made myself and my unhappy 
fellow-exiles a very scorn of men and outcast of 
the people, and, what grieves me worse, have 
delivered up God's Church to the will of its 

" Our persecutor had held out sure hopes to 
the Count of Flanders, and others of the French 
nobility, that he meant to make peace with us ; 
but his messengers arrived with new powers from 
your Holiness, and all was at an end. What 
could our friends do for us when thus repulsed by 
II Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 51 ; Froude's Remains, p. 348. 

290 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 24 

your Holiness's act, and smitten down as with 
the chib of Hercules? 

" Would that your Holiness's ear could hear 
what is said of this matter by the Bishops, 
nobles, and commons of both realms, and that 
3^our eye could see the scandal with which it has 
filled the French Court. What is there that this 
man ma}^ not now look for, when, through agents 
famous only for their crimes, he has circumvented 
those who have the key of knowledge, overthrown 
the ministers of justice, and seared the majesty 
of the Apostolic See ? This King, whose sole 
hope rests on the chance of your Holiness's 
death or mine, has obtained the very thing he 
wishes, — a fresh delay, in which one or other 
of those events might happen. God avert 
them ! 

'• But your Holiness counsels me to bear with 
patience the ineamt'hilc. And do you not observe, 
O father, what this nicanwliilc may bring about, to 
the injury of the Church and of your Holiness's 
reputation ? M can-while, he applies to his own 
purposes the revenues of the vacant abbeys and 
bishoprics, and will not suffer pastors to be 
ordained there ; meanwhile, he riots in uncon- 
trolled insolence against the parishes, churches, 
holy places, and the whole sacred order ; mean- 
while, he and the other persecutors of the Church 
make their will their law ; meanwhile, who is to 
take charge of the sheep of Christ, and save 
them from the jaws of wolves, who no longer 
prowl around, but have entered the fold, and 
devour and tear and sla\-, with none to resist 


them ? For what pastor is there whose voice you 
have not silenced, and what Bishop have 3'ou not 
suspended in suspending me ? 

"This act of your Hohness is ahke unexampled 
and unmerited, and will do the work of t3rants in 
other days as well as yours. Your Holiness has 
set an example ready to their hands ; and doubt- 
less this man and his posterity, unless your Holi- 
ness takes steps to order it otherwise, will draw 
it into a precedent. He and his nobles, whatever 
be their crime, will claim, among the privileges 
of the realm, exemption from any sentence 
of excommunication or interdict till authorized 
by the Apostolic See ; then, in time, when the 
evil has taken root, neither will the Supreme 
Pontiff himself find any in the whole kingdom 
to take part with him against the King and his 

There is j'et another passage of this magnifi- 
cent example of apostolic liberty which must be 
given, notwithstanding its length, as it is valuable 
for the instances which it recites of rc3-al t3Tanny 
and usurpation. 

" Some ma3' sa3-, perhaps, that it was out of 
hatred to m3-self personalh', that the customs 
were introduced. But in truth, from the ver3' day 
of the King's accession to power, he took up the 
persecution of the Church, as if it were an heir- 
loom. Was I Archbishop when his father pro- 
hibited the envoys of the blessed Eugenius from 
setting foot on his territory ? Was I Archbishop 
when Gregorv, Cardinal Deacon of St. Angelo, 
foreseeing this man's tyranny, persuaded my lord 

292 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 24 

Eugcnius to permit'- the coronation of Eustace, 
King Stephen's son, saying that a ram \vas more 
easily held by the horns than a lion by the tail ? 
Your Holiness will recollect this history, and like- 
wise the letters which were then procured by him 
who is now at York, and joins the King in m}- 
persecution, 3-ea, aims at overthrowing the 
Church's libert}-. Was I Archbishop when, taking 
offence at an appeal, the King transferred the 
Church of Bosham to the Bishop of Lisieux, who 
by his rhetoric and his iiatteries still holds it,'^ 
to the injury of the Church of Exeter ? And 
what success had the Bishop of Chichester 
against the Abbot of Battle ;'■* when, on his daring 
to speak before the Court of apostolic privileges, 
and to denounce the Abbot excommunicate, he 
was forthwith compelled to communicate with 
him in the face of all present, without even the 
form of absolution, and to receive him to the kiss 
of peace ? For such was the King's pleasure and 
that of the Court, which dared not to oppose his 
will in anything. And this, most Holy Father, 
happened in the time of your Holiness's prede- 
cessor as well as of mine. 

"And now, let those who attribute all this to 

12 " Ut Eustachium coronari non permitteret," by an evident 
error in Dr. Giles' edition. This letter has not yet appeared in 
the Rolls Series. 

13 When Henry, after the martyrdom, left Normandy on his 
way to Ireland, to escape the Legates, Bartholomew Bishop of 
Exeter crossed the Severn, and finding him at Pembroke, asked 
and obtained the restoration of Bosham to the see of Exeter 
(Girald. Cambrensis, Aiigl. Sncr. p. 427). 

14 See Note D. 


hatred of myself, name, if they can, any instance 
in this man's time, in which the authority of the 
See of Rome has availed any single person in his 
realm, so as to procure justice against himself or 
his favourites. Truly I can recollect none; though 
I could name many whom his hatred of the See 
of Rome has brought into jeopardy. 

" Achard, Abbot of St. Victor's, was elected 
Bishop of See2. What prevented his consecra- 
tion, except that his election had been confirmed 
by Pope Adrian ? And why did the King consent 
afterwards to his being made Bishop of Avran- 
ches, except that no election had preceded his 
own choice ? Froger too, in like manner, was 
not elected to the see of Seez, but intruded into 
it : and all this before my promotion. 

"And yet I doubt not that this struggle for 
the Church's liberty w^ould long ago have been 
brought to a close, unless his wilfulness, not to 
use a harsher term, had found patrons in the 
Church of Rome. God requite them as is best 
for His Church and for themselves. The Al- 
mighty, All-just Lord God judge between them 
and me. Little should I have needed their 
patronage, if I had chosen to forsake the Church 
and yield to his wilfulness myself. I might have 
flourished in wealth and abundance of delicacies ; 
I might have been feared, courted, honoured, and 
might have provided for my own in luxury and 
worldly glory, as I pleased. But because God 
called me to the government of His Church, an 
unworthy sinner as I was, and most wretched, 
though flourishing in the world's goods beyond 

294 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 24 

all iny countrymen, through His i(race preventing 
and assisting me, I chose rather to be an outcast 
from the palace, to be exiled, proscribed, and to 
tinish my life in the last wretchedness, than to 
sell the Church's liberty, and to prefer the iniqui- 
tous traditions of men to the law of God. 

" Such a course be for those who promise 
themselves many days, and in the consciousness 
of their deserts expect better times. For myself, 
I know that my own days are few ; and that 
unless I declare to the wicked man his ways, his 
blood will shortly be required at m}^ hands, by 
One from whom no patronage can protect me. 
There silver and gold will be profitless, and gifts 
that blind the eyes of wise ones. 

" We shall soon stand all of us before the 
tribunal of Christ, and by His majesty and ter- 
rible judgment I conjure your Holiness, as my 
father and lord, and as the supreme judge on 
earth, to render justice to His Church and to 
myself, against those who seek my life to take it 

Surely these last two paragraphs were penned 
by the Saint when the revelation of his coming 
mart}'rdom was vividly before his mind, as was 
doubtless also the conclusion of a letter '^ to the 
Bishop of Hereford, written probably about the 
time he left Pontigny, in which he thus speaks : 
" Now to end all as it ought to be ended, since 
the Lord has shown us what and how great 

15 " Quoniam ostendit nobis Dominus qua^ et quanta oporteat 
nos pati pro nomine suo et defensione Ecclesise " [Materials, v. 
P- 45C). 

ii68] MEANWHILE. 295 

things we have to suffer for His Name's sake and 
for the defence of His Church, we have need that 
you, and the Church committed to your care, 
should pray without ceasing for us ; that where 
by our merits we fail, we may by your prayers 
and by those of the saints under your rule be 
able to endure, and thus deserve to obtain grace 




The Cardinal Legates recalled — a new embassy from the Pope — 
meeting between the Kings of England and France near 
Montmirail — St. Thomas invited to the conference — he 
stands firm, v/hile his own followers and King Louis turn 
against him — the people praise him — he refuses a second 
conference — the Kings meet again — the Pope restores St. 
Thomas's powers — King Louis again becomes his friend. 

The remonstrances which St. Thomas thought it 
right to address to the Pope were accompanied 
by letters' in a similar strain from the King and 
Queen of France and from other influential per- 
sonages. The result was a renewal of the assur- 
ance on the Pope's part, ~ that, at the time named, 
St. Thomas should be left free to exercise his 
powers against the King.^ The Cardinals were 
recalled ; and they left, not without some sense 
that the cause of the Church had sadly suffered 
in their hands. In a final interview ^^•ith King 
Henry, Cardinal Otho strongly pressed upon him 
the duty of restoring the Archbishop. His reply 

I Materials, p . 4C0, 4G2, 4C4, 46S. 
3 Jbid. p. 4S4. 3 Ibid. p. 4S0. 

1169] THE KINGS. 297 

was, that as to the customs, he and his children 
would be content to claim only those which a 
hundred men from England, a hundred from 
Normandy, a hundred from Anjou, and so from 
his other dominions, would prove on oath to have 
been claimed by his predecessors. Or, if this 
condition displeased the Archbishop, he said he 
was willing to abide by the judgment of three 
Bishops from England, and three from his con- 
tinental dominions, naming Rouen, Bayeux, and 
Le Mans. Or, if this were not enough, he would 
submit to the arbitration of his lordship the 
Pope, but only for himself and not for his heirs. 
He refused, however, to make any restitution 
whatever of the property of the z\rchbishop and 
his friends. The Cardinals were glad to leave 
King Henry's dominions ; for the time was run- 
ning rapidly on, and they were much afraid lest, 
if Lent came, and St. Thomas then passed some 
spiritual sentence upon the King, their own per- 
sons might not be safe. 

The Holy Father had received such strong 
assurances from Henry that he was about to be 
reconciled to St. Thomas, both under his own 
hand and by his envoys, that he had regarded it 
as certain to take place shorth', and accordingly 
he had given it in the first instance as the period 
of the suspension of the Saint's powers. As the 
Lent was now approaching which he had defined 
as the term to St. Thomas, he thought it might 
be productive of good to send an embassy to the 
King. Accordingly, Simon prior of IMontdieu, 
Engelbert prior of Val de St. Pierre, and Bernard 

298 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 25 

la Coudre a monk of Grammont, were sent' to 
be the bearers of commonitory letters warning 
him of the sentence which would now surel}- fall 
upon him if he did not at length do his duty by 
the Church, and fulfil his promise of being recon- 
ciled to the Archbishop. By their mediation, a 
conference was brought about between St. Thomas 
and King Henry. 

Many efforts had been made and conferences 
held with a view to restoring peace between 
England and France. At length terms were 
finally arranged and peace was concluded at a 
meeting 5 between the two Kings in a plain near 
Montmirail in the Chartraine, on the Epiphany, 
January 6th, ii6g. King Henry was now in 
earnest in his desire of peace, and, by the media- 
tion of Theobald Count of Blois and Father 
Bernard of Grammont, the Kings joined hands 
and interchanged the kiss. About the same time, 
the King of England had received letters com- 
monitory from the Pope in behalf of St. Thomas 
through the three religious messengers. Henry 
on his part had given hopes of peace, if the 
Archbishop would make a show of submission. 
For this reason, they counselled King Louis to 
invite St. Thomas to the colloquy. 

Before the conference began, St. Thomas was 
surrounded by his friends, who, almost unani- 
mously, tried to induce him to make his submis- 

4 Materials, vi. p. 437, 43S. This letter or commission is dated 
Benevento, 25th May ; but it contains the words, "ante initium 
proximas Quadragesima?, quae jam quasi instare \idetur." 

5 Ibid. pp. 488, 506. 

Ii69] THE KINGS. 2gg 

sion to Kin£^ Henry absolutely, adding no con- 
dition or clause, and leaving all the matter in 
dispute to the King's mercy and generosit}-. 
St. Thomas had proposed to substitute for the 
phrase, " saving his order," the similar but more 
solemn clause, " saving God's honour." At this 
time, one came in and told him that he had 
heard the King of England sa}', that he was only 
waiting to be reconciled to the Archbishop, to 
take the cross on his shoulder and go to Jeru- 
salem ; adding, what had deceived the Saint 
years ago, but was hardly likely to entrap him 
now, that he only wanted a verbal consent, before 
the King of France and the others who were b}', 
for the sake of his own honour. As St. Thomas 
was entering into the conference, w^hile it was 
unknown whether he was persuaded or not by 
the arguments and entreaties of all around him, 
Herbert of Bosham managed to thrust himself in 
amongst the crowd of great people to whisper a 
warning to the Saint that, if he omitted the 
clause "saving God's honour" now, he would be 
sure afterwards to repent it as bitterly as he 
had done his omission of the former clause in 
England. There was not tim.e for him to answer 
by more than a look, when they were in the 
presence of the Kings. 

When he saw his sovereign, he threw himself 
on his knees before him, and in this he was 
imitated by his firm friend William, the son of 
Count Theobald, now Archbishop of Sens ; Hugh 
having died since the Saint went to live in that 
city. The King raised him up, when he said. 

300 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 25 

" Have mercy on me, O my lord ; for I throw 
myself on God and your majesty, for God's 
honour and yours." King Henry had only been 
anxious for a reconciliation with the Archbishop 
as long as he thought it would promote his treaty 
with the King of France, so he at once took 
offence at the phrase touching the honour of 
God, which had been introduced. He began to 
speak in a contumelious and insulting manner to 
the Saint, saying, amongst other things, that 
while he was Chancellor he had received oaths of 
homage and fealty from all sorts of persons on 
both sides of the Channel, that he might supplant 
his King and become lord of all. The Saint 
began to reply; but Henry interrupted him, and 
turning to Louis said, " My lord, see how fool- 
ishly and how proudly this man deserted his 
Church, for he ran away by night, though neither 
I nor any one else drove him out of the kingdom. 
And now he persuades you that his is the cause 
of the Church, and that he suffers for justice 
sake, and thus he has deceived many great 
people. Now, my lord the King, and holy men 
and princes who are present, I ask for nothing 
from the Archbishop, but that he should keep 
those customs which his five immediate predeces- 
sors (some of whom are Saints and are famed 
for miracles) all observed to mine, and to which 
he himself has assented : let him again, in your 
presence, as a priest and a bishop, pledge himself 
to these without any subterfuge. The sole cause 
of dissension between us is, that he infringes 
them, and that at ^^czclay, that famous place, on 

1169] THE KINGS. 301 

a high festival, he has condemned some of them, 
and excommunicated those who observe them." 

This speech produced a great effect. Some 
people called out, "The King humbles himself 
enough." The Archbishop was silent for a while, 
when Louis said, in a way which delighted the 
friends of the King of England, " i>Iy lord Arch- 
bishop, do you wish to be more than a saint ? 
Or better than Peter ? Why do you doubt ? 
Here is peace at hand." St. Thomas replied : 
" It is true that my predecessors were better 
and greater than I, each in their time, and al- 
though they did not uproot every thing that lifted 
itself against God, yet they did destroy some 
things. And if any of them exceeded or fell 
short in any thing, in such a matter they set us 
no example. We blame Peter for denying Christ, 
but we praise him for risking his life in opposing 
Nero. Our fathers have suffered because they 
would not withhold the Name of Christ ; and 
shall I, to recover a man's favour, suppress 
Christ's honour ? " " This phrase," King Henry 
said, " I will never receive, lest the Archbishop 
should seem to wish to save God's honour, and 
not I, v.-ho desire it still more." St. Thomas 
reminded the King that the oath of fealty con- 
tained the clause, "saving my order; " on which 
he rose in anger, and withdrew. The Pope's 
envoys followed him, being bound to serve upon 
him other letters of the Pope of a severer 
character, in case the reconciliation were not 
effected ; but they postponed it when the King 
began to say to them that on their counsel he 

302 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 25 

would do what he had avoided in the conference, 
lest it should not seem a free act on his part. 
He promised that if they could induce the Arch- 
bishop to swear to the customs, he would correct 
anythin,^ that might seem harsh and intolerable 
in them, by the advice of religious men whom 
he would summon. He also boasted with an 
oath that there was no Church in the world 
which had such liberty and peace, and that there 
was no clergy in such honour as those in his 
dominions, though a more impure and wicked set 
did not exist ; being for the most part sacri- 
legious, adulterous, highwaymen, thieves, men 
guilty of rape, arson, and homicide : and for 
every lie he found a witness amongst the clerg}- 
and laity about him. 

On this they went to the Archbishop, A\-hom 
they found surrounded by French, English, Nor- 
mans, Bretons, and Poitevins, whom they joined 
in praying him to consent to omit the vital 
clause. " Why," they urged, " should we be 
better than our fathers ? " The Saint replied, 
that the blessed Anselm was the only one of 
them who had been urged to profess the customs, 
and he had been driven into exile. At length 
they left St. Thomas, and told the Kings of his 
firmness, which was called obstinacy ; after 
which, as night was coming on, the two Kings 
mounted and departed together, without saluting 
the Archbishop. King Henry boasted as he rode 
that that day he had been avenged of his traitor. 
Some of the courtiers let the Archbishop hear 
them say that he was alwa}-s proud, wise in his 

1169] THE KINGS. 303 

own eyes, a follower of his own will and opinion ; 
that the worst thing that had happened to the 
Church was the choice of him for a ruler, and 
that through him she would soon be destroyed 
altogether, as she now was in part. The Saint 
made no reply whatever ; which shows, if one 
may venture to say so, how much good his exile 
had done to his spiritual life, and how much 
more his naturally vehement temper was under 
control than it was when he was subjected to 
similar reproaches at Northampton. He an- 
swered, however, his old friend John, the Bishop 
of Poitiers, " Brother, take care that the Church 
of God be not destroyed by thee ; for by me, by 
God"s favour, it shall never be destroyed." 

The majority even of his own followers were 
led away by the current feeling, and were jealous 
of losing the restoration to their homes, which 
had seemed just within their grasp. As they 
were riding away after the conference, the horse 
of one of them named Henry of Houghton,^ who 
was riding just before the Archbishop, stumbled, 
on which the rider called out, loud enough for 
the Saint to hear, " Go on, — saving the honour 
of God, and of Holy Church, and of my order." 
Here again the A^rchbishop, much as he v/as 
pained, did not speak. When, however, they 
drew up to give their horses breath, the Saint 
said to his clerics : " Beloved companions, who 
have suffered every thing with me, why do you 

6 Fitzstephen, p. 96. This Henry of Houghton, or Hocton, 
relates a cure that he had obtained by the Saint's intercession 
(Benedict, p. 161). 

304 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 25 

SO think and speak against me? Our return 
and restoration is but a little thing : the liberty 
of the Church, of which the King says nothing, 
is of far greater consequence. At length I will 
accept the best peace I can, but you never yet 
saw such short bargaining." Herbert, however, 
took a better tone, by reminding his master of 
the text, " Him will I honour who honoureth 

They arrived at Montmirail before the King 
of France. King Louis usually came to visit 
the Saint on his return, but to-day he did not 
do so. It was noticed that now, when, according 
to the threats of one of the earls after the con- 
ference, it was probable that France would no 
longer afford them shelter, the Saint ^^■as far 
more cheerful than usual. On the following day 
King Louis remained behind ; but early in the 
morning the Archbishop left Montmirail for Char- 
tres on his way back to Sens. As they went, 
people asked who it was that was going by ; and 
when they heard that it was the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, they pointed him out one to another, 
saying, "That is the Archbishop who yesterday 
would not deny God or neglect His honour for 
the sake of the Kings." The fame of the con- 
ference had already spread far and wide. The 
Archbishop, who overheard what was said, was 
much touched, and looked at Herbert, who tells 
us that this frequently happened as they were 
travelling in France. 

The Bishop of Poitiers was sent after the Saint 
to Etampes, to beg him once more, for the sake 

1169] THE KINGS, 305 

of peace, to leave matters unreservedly to the 
King. The answer was as before, that he would 
do so, savin,s^ God's honour, and the order, 
honour, and liberty of the Church ; but that he 
would promise nothing to the injury of the law 
of God. The Bishop returned to the King; and 
in order to pacify him, he modified the answer, 
saying, that the Archbishop would trust his cause 
to him above all mortals, but that he prayed 
him as a Christian prince to provide for the 
Church's honour and his own. Henry was over- 
joyed to accept such terms ; and the Bishop 
wrote^ to St. Thomas, telling him, that the King 
invited him to an audience at Tours on the feast 
of St. Peter's Chair, January i8th, about a fort- 
night after the conference of Montmirail. St. 
Thomas's answer,^ which was a very affectionate 
one to the Bishop personally, refused absolutely 
any further conference, until, according to the 
Pope's command, he was freely restored to his 
Church and the royal favour. That this was 
not to be expected, was shown by the King's 
answer to the Pope's envoj-s, as by them des- 
cribed to the Pope, " That perhaps it might 
be the advice of his friends to restore him his 
Church, but that to take him back into favour 
he never would ; for that then he should make 
void the privilege His Holiness had granted him, 
by which the Archbishop's power was suspended 
till he was taken back into favour." 

When the King learned from Bernard de la 
Coudre that the purport of the Pope's second 

7 Materials, vi. p. 491. 8 JUd. p. 493. 


306 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 25 

commonitory letter was the restoration of the 
Archbishop's powers over himself and the king- 
dom, he secretly sent other messengers to the 
Holy See. Another conference of the two Kings 
was held, at which the Pope's envoys delivered 
the second letter. It was with the greatest diffi- 
culty that Henry could be brought to accept it 
by the persuasion of his councillors ; but though 
they induced him to abandon the word customs, 
yet he still declared that the only terms on which 
St. Thomas might return in peace, were a simple 
promise, " in the word of truth, that he would do 
what his predecessors had done." They told 
him that the Archbishop would still require the 
insertion of his saving clause, and that he could 
not observe such things as the Pope had con- 
demned at Sens, when he had been absolved 
from his obligation or promise to observe the 
customs. Henry then said that he would sum- 
mon the Bishops of England, and consult with 
them, as he had usually done ; but he refused 
to write any answer to the Pope. He left the 
Pope's envoys with anger, excepting Bernard 
de la Coudre, whom he took aside, promising 
to visit Grammont very soon, and to follow the 
advice of the Prior. 

St. Thomas's full powers were now restored ; 
but the envoys begged him not to use them until 
it was seen what effect the conference of Gram- 
mont might have. 

At length, most thoughtful people perceived 
that St. Thomas was only acting with common 
prudence, when he refused to omit the salvo of 

iiGoJ THE KINGS. 307 

God's honour. Bernard of Grammont said to 
Herbert : "I would rather have my foot cut off, 
than that your lord the Archbishop should have 
made peace at that conference, as I and all the 
others advised him." 

A still more important point was the return 
of King^ Louis to his former friendliness. The 
Archbishop's party went back from Chartres to 
Sens, which was a two days' journey. Three 
days after their arrival, they were talking to- 
gether, and asking one another where they should 
go. The Archbishop was as cheerful as if he 
had no misfortunes, and he returned the con- 
dolences of the party with quiet laughter and 
pleasantry. " I am the only one aimed at ; when 
I am disposed of, they will not persecute you, 
so seriously at least. Be not so alarmed." They 
assured him that he was the onl}" one they were 
concerned for. "Oh." he replied, "I commit 
myself to God's keeping, now that I am shut 
out of both kingdoms. I cannot betake myself 
again to those Roman robbers ; they are always 
despoiling the miserable. Let me see, — I have 
heard that they are a more liberal people in 
Burgundy near the river Saone. I will go there 
on foot with one companion ; perhaps when they 
see us, they will take compassion on our forlorn 
condition, and give us subsistence for a time, till 
God interposes for us. God can help His own 
in the lowest misery : and he is worse than an 
infidel who distrusts God's mercy." No sooner 
was this said, than the mercy of God appeared 
at the very door. A servant of the King of 

308 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 25 

France requested the presence of the Archbishop 
at Court. " In order to expel us from the king- 
dom," exclaimed one of the party. " You are 
no prophet," said the Archbishop, "nor the son 
of a prophet : do not forbode evil." They went 

Vv^hen they arrived, Louis was sitting and 
looking downcast ; nor did he rise up, as his 
custom was, to meet the Archbishop. This was 
an ominous beginning. After a silence of a con- 
siderable time, the King bent his head down, as 
if he was reluctantly meditating the Archbishop's 
expulsion, and every one was in painful suspense, 
expecting the announcement, when all at once 
he sprang forward, and with sighs and tears 
threw himself at the Saint's feet, to the astonish- 
ment of the whole party. The Archbishop raised 
him up ; and when he had recovered himself, he 
said, " O my lord, you were the only clear-sighted 
one amongst us." He sighed and repeated, 
" O my father, you were the only clear-sighted 
one amongst us. We were all blind, and gave 
you advice repugnant to God's law, and surren- 
dered God's honour to the pleasure of a man. 
I repent, my father, I deeply repent. Pardon 
me, and absolve me from this fault. I offer 
myself and my kingdom to God and to you. and 
I promise henceforward, as long as I live, not to 
fail you or yours." The Archbishop gave him 
absolution and his blessing, and returned with 
his suite to St. Columba's abbey in great joy. 
And the King was as good as his word. 



1 1 69. 

At Clairvaux on Palm Sunday St. Thomas excommunicates 
the Bishop of London and others — these sentences generally 
disregarded at Court — publication of the Bishop's excommu- 
nication in St. Paul's on Ascension Day — the danger run by 
the Archbishop's messengers — the King's violence when 
angry — Gilbert Foliot's appeal in Lent — meeting of Bishops 
at Northampton on Trinity Sunday — King Henry's letter to 
Foliot — further excommunications on Ascension Day — 
courageous conduct of the Bishop of Worcester — the Pope 
requests St. Thomas to suspend the censures for a time. 

St. Thomas was now in a better position than 
he had yet been. King Louis was more firmly 
his friend than ever, and his powers were now 
fully restored to him, both by the lapse of the 
term for which they had been suspended, and 
by the publication of the Pope's second letter 
to the King. 

At last the blow, long merited and long de- 
layed, fell on the head of Gilbert Foliot, Bishop 
of London. The Bishop knew perfectly well that 
the sentence was pending, although the citations 
could not, in consequence of the severity of the 
watch that was kept, be legally and formally de- 
livered. He wrote to Jocelin of Salisbury, to warn 
him that he was to be included in the coming 


censure ; and at the beginning of Lent they both 
appealed to the Pope, naming as the term of the 
appeal the gth of February, 1170. This they 
certified to St. Thomas.' It was, however, the 
opinion of the canonists who advised the Saint 
that the appeal was invalid, as being captiously 
made in order to avoid justice : on Palm 
Sunday,- therefore, April 13, 1169, at Clairvaux, 
he excommunicated Gilbert Foliot ; and in the 
document ^ which announced it to the Dean 
and clergy of London he threatened, unless satis- 
faction was made by them in the interval, on 
Ascension Day to excommunicate also Geoffrey 
Ridel, the Archdeacon of Canterbury, and Robert 
his vicar, Richard of Ilchester, Richard de Luci, 
William Giffard, Adam of Charing, and all who 
should have either usurped Church property or 
urged the King to injure the Church or banish 
the innocent, and all who should have injured 
the Pope's messengers or his own. The names 
were added of all who were excommunicated at 
the same time with the Bishop of London : they 
were, the Bishop of Salisbury ; Hugh Earl of 
Norfolk ; Randulf de Broc ; Thomas Fitz- 
Bernard ; Robert de Broc, a cleric ; Hugh of 
St. Clair; Letard of Northfleet, a cleric; Nigel 
de Sackville ; and Richard the brother of William 
of Hastings, a cleric, who had usurped the 
Church of Monkton. There are several names 
found here which are amongst the excommuni- 
cates of Vezelay, which is accounted for by the 

I Materials, vi. pp. 534, 539, 540. 
2 Ibid. p. 451. 3 Ibid. p. 55S. 


rumour which reached the Archbishop, that John 
of Oxford had obtained their absolution. He 
had, in truth, as we have seen, obtained but a 
very conditional one, which was ver}- freely inter- 
preted ; for Alan de Neville had been absolved 
on the plea that he was going to Jerusalem, and 
several others at Holy Trinit}^ in London, under 
pretext that they were in danger of death, as they 
were about to join the war against the Welsh. 

The Archbishop's letters excommunicating the 
Bishop of London were carried by two messen- 
gers, whose names were Berengar and Wil- 
liam Bonhart, the latter of whom has described 
to us their delivery.-* On Ascension Day, May 29, 
1169, they went together to St. Paul's Cathedral, 
at the high altar of which a priest named Vitalis 
was singing Mass. At the offertory, Berengar 
went up to the altar, and kneeling down placed 
the Archbishop's letters in the priest's hands, 
who turned to receive them, thinking them an 
offering. Berengar then held his hands firmly, 
until he had bidden him in the name of the 
Pope and the Archbishop, to give one copy 
to the Bishop, and the other to the Dean ; 
and he commanded him not to proceed with 
the Mass, nor William of Nordhall^ the deacon, 
nor W. Hog the subdeacon, whom he called 
as witnesses, to continue to assist at it, until 
the letters were read aloud. Berengar then 
turned to the people, and said in a loud 
voice, "Take notice, that Gilbert the Bishop of 

4 Materials, vi. p. 603. 
5 William was Bishop of Worcester from 11S6 to 1190. 

312 ST, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 26 

London has been excommunicated by Thomas 
the Archbishop of Canterbury and Legate of the 
ApostoHc See." When the people heard this, 
some tried to stop Berengar, others insulted 
him ; but William Bonhart covered him with 
his cloak, and, mingling with the crowd ^ who 
poured out of the church, they got safe to their 
lodgings. Some of the people nearest the altar 
asked the priest whether the city was placed 
under an interdict ; and on learning that it was 
not, they asked no more questions. Vitalis did 
not wish to continue the Mass until the letters 
were read ; but the deacon went to Nicholas 
the Archdeacon, who said, " Would the priest 
stop his dinner if a messenger were to bid him 
cease to eat, in the Archbishop's name ? " They 
continued the Mass, the letters being only read 
privately. The King's officials instituted a strict 
search for Berengar both in the city and the 
country, but without success. He afterwards 
went to York, bearing letters from the Pope ; 
and he managed to escape arrest. 

The danger which Berengar ran was very 
serious. He was a layman, and not literate ; 
but he is described as a young man who would 
expose himself to peril, and who was not afraid 
even to die for God's sake. A very strict watch 

6 Fitzstephen (p. 90) says, that people who had heard Mass 
in their parish church in the morning were in the habit of 
leaving the cathedral after the Gospel, probably having attended 
the sermon. Bonhart thought this escape so wonderful that in 
writing to St. Thomas he says that he has, as witnesses of the 
fact, Berengar himself, Richard the nephew of William de 
Capes, and the son of William Wannoc. 

1169] CLAIRVAUX. 313 

was kept up alon^ the coast, so that the chance 
of escaping detection was but small ; and when 
taken, the Archbishop's messenger had to expect 
not only the severe penalties of high treason, 
but also whatever else Henry's irascible temper 
might choose to order on the spur of the moment. 
An extract from a letter,^ showing what the great 
Henry Plantagenet could become in a paroxysm 
of rage, will not be out of place here. " Richard 
de Humet ventured to say something that seemed 
like favouring the Scotch ; and the King broke 
out into open abuse, calling him a traitor out- 
right. In his fit of passion he flung down his 
cap, undid his belt, threw from him his cloak 
and robes, tore the silk covering off his couch, 
and, sitting down as if on a dunghill, began to 
chew stalks of straw." The same writer says, 
" It was at Toucques that his lordship the Pope's 
messenger was taken ; he is still imprisoned and 
in chains. Here, too, the Lord saved Master 
Herbert out of the hand of his pursuers. Surely 
he should not have exposed himself so on a 
matter of such little consequence." Another 
specimen of the King's temper is given us in 
the fate of a bearer of a letter to the King. 
"You know, I conclude," writes Nicholas,^ Prior 
of the Hospital of Mont-St. Jacques, near Rouen, 
" in what a strait the messenger was who de- 
livered the letter to the King. His iingers were 

7 Materials, vi. p. 71. This Richard de Humet was Justiciary 
of Normandy ; so that Henry could not restrain his violence, 
even against a great nobleman and high officer of State. 

8 Ibid. p. 76. 

314 ST. THOMAS OF CAXTEKBURV. [chap. 26 

thrust into his e3'es, as if to tear them out, till 
the blood flowed ; and hot water was forced 
down his throat, till he confessed that the letter 
came from Master Herbert. He is not yet re- 
leased from prison ; though the King has received 
an order to that effect from his mother." 

The fear of being subjected to violent usage 
was, under such circumstances, quite enough to 
deter people from carrying the Archbishop's 
letters ; and the wonder is, rather how so many 
reached their destination in safety, than how in 
some cases no one could be found to take them. 
This would also account for the three warnings 
which the canon law requires not being served 
on the Bishop of London previous to his excom- 
munication, and for the formal notice of it being 
after such an interval. He had, however, known 
of it long before the Archbishop's letter was 
published in London, Early in Lent (March 18, 
1 169) Gilbert Foliot had appealed at St. Paul's 
in the presence of many abbots, priors, arch- 
deacons, and clerics; 9 and, about the same time, 
he had assembled '° at Westminster the Bishops 
of Exeter and Salisbury, Richard of Ilchester, 
Laurence the Abbot of Westminster, Guy Rufus 
the Dean of Waltham, and the Barons of the 
Exchequer. The Bishop of Exeter sent him 
a preliminary message that he must not offer 
him the usual salutation of a kiss ; but on 
their meeting, and Gilbert offering it, Bartho- 
lomew did not refuse it. The object of the 
Bishop of London was to try and induce his 
9 Maicriah, vi. pp. G14, Gig. 10 Jhid. p. CoG. 

ii69] CLAIRVAUX. 315 

brother of Exeter to join him in an appeal ; 
but he did not succeed. Jocehn of SaHsbury, 
in the course of the proceedings, made use of 
the insulting phrase, in reference to the sentence 
passed upon him, " If Buinard the Archbishop, or 
any fool of an archbishop of mine, were to order 
m.e to do anything that I ought not to do, do 
you think I should do it ? " 

The Bishop of London was in the country, at 
a place called Stubbehuthe (Stepney), when he 
learnt what had happened in his cathedral." On 
the Saturday follovv'ing (May 31, 11 69) he met 
the Chapter, which had been summoned for that 
day ; and after much conference, \''italis was 
ordered to produce the letters, which he did, 
giving the Bishop and the Dean those respectively 
intended for them. The Bishop read his aloud, 
knitting his eyebrows, and pronouncing the words 
with difficulty through vexation. When he had 
finished the letter, he began to argue against it 
under the following heads : 

" The first head is from the Old Testament. 
Adam sinned in Paradise. God did not sentence 
him at once, but suffered him to depart ; then 
cited him, saying, 'Adam!' then rebuked him, 
saying, ' Where art thou ? " 

" The second head from the New Testament. 
It is said to Peter in the Gospel, ' If thy brother 
sin against thee, rebuke him in private ; " after- 
wards, ' before two or three ; ' thirdly, ' tell it to 
the Church ; ' then, lastly, reckon him incorrigible, 
'let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican.' 
II Ibid. p. 604. 

3l6 ST, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. 'chap. 26 

" It will not do for the Archbishop to say, ' I 
could not cite the Bishop of London.' It ap- 
pears he could : if he could do the greater, that 
is, excommunicate, he could do the less, that is, 

*' Not to be appealed from is the privilege only 
of the Pope. I am safe, therefore, by my appeal ; 
and in the sacred name of the Most Holy Trinity, 
I dash this deed of his to pieces against the rock 
on which the Church is founded. 

" In all criminal cases, four persons are ne- 
cessary, — -the accuser, the accused, the witnesses, 
the judge ; these he confounds in his eagerness 
against me, accusing, witnessing, judging all 
himself. Hence it is clear that, if he could, he 
would be executioner too. 

" He puts his sickle into another man's har- 
vest ; for he has no power over my person or my 
church : over my person, because I never made 
profession of obedience to him, nor yet obeyed 
him, nor yet made profession to the Church of 
Canterbury in the name of this Church of Lon- 
don ; over my Church, because the Church of 
London reasserts the right which was only taken 
from it by a Pagan invasion, — that is, of being 
the archiepiscopal see. This I am prepared 
to prove, and on this ground I renew my 

" If it is true, as he says, that he holds his 
power from the Pope as legate, neither will that 
assist him ; for he is not yet within the limits 
for which his commission is granted." 

The Dean, Archdeacon, and all the canons 

1 169] CLAIRVAUX. 317 

and priests of St. Paul's joined the appeal ; " but 
the canons of St. Bartholomew's, St. Martin's, 
and Holy Trinity refused. Finally, the Dean 
caused the letter sent to him to be read.^^ 

Whatever validity there may be in canon law 
in the other points of the Bishop's appeal, one 
of those above mentioned was particularly dis- 
graceful. When he was translated from Hereford 
to London, he refused to make a fresh profession 
of obedience, on the express plea that it was not 
requisite, since that made by him on his pro- 
motion to Hereford was still in force. St. Thomas 
carried the question v/ith him to Pope Alexander 
when they both went to the Council of Tours ; 
and, with the express provision that it should 
be no prejudice to the Archbishop or his Church, 
Alexander decided the cause in Gilbert's favour. 
It was, therefore, literally true that he had not 
personally made any profession to St. Thomas, 
for when made Bishop of Plereford, his profession 
was made to Theobald ; nor had he in the name 
of the Church of London professed obedience 
to Canterbury ; but he had been exempted from 
both on the express condition that he should not 
claim the exemption which he now pretended. 

The Bishops on Trinity Sunday held a meet- 
ing at Northampton. '+ The object was to 
induce them to renew the appeal which the 

12 Materials, vi. pp. 606, 618. The Abbots of Westminster, 
Ramsey, Chertsey, Reading, and Stratford, the Archbishop of 
Rouen, and the Bishop of Lisieux, all wrote to the Pope on 
behalf of the Bishop of London [Ibid. pp. 621 — 639). 

13 Ibid. p. 558. 

14 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 268; Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 32S. 

3l8 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 26 

Bishops of London and Salisbury had made at 
the beginning of Lent. When the Bishop of 
Durham, who sat first, was asked, he answered 
that he had "not been present when the appeal 
was made, nor had he received any citation ; 
that he would, however, consult his metropolitan, 
the Archbishop of York ; and after due delibera- 
tion, he would do whatever he might, saving 
God's honour and his own. The evasion was 
highly approved by the other Bishops, who were 
unwilling to take a bolder part than they were 
forced into against St. Thomas. They were also 
probably deterred by the pretensions to inde- 
pendence of Canterbury, which Gilbert had mixed 
up with his appeal, and which, especially on the 
Continent, excited the liveliest indignation. The 
Archbishop of Sens, and the Bishops of Auxerre, 
Therouanne, Noyon, Paris, and Troyes all wrote^^ 
on the subject. 

The Bishop of Exeter was next asked what 
he thought ; and he replied, that his brother 
Bishops had made the appeal without his know- 
ledge ; that if they appealed, they would be 
uniting themselves with excommunicated per- 
sons ; and that if the Pope should confirm the 
sentence, there was great danger, which nothing 
should induce him to encounter. If, however, 
it were for the good of the Church, and if by 
the King's favour he might leave the kingdom, 
he would appeal against any fresh injury which 
might be feared, but not against any already 

15 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 154 ; Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. pp. 205, 224, 228, 
235. ^^1- 

ii69] CLAIRVAUX. 3I9 

inflicted. For his part, if any sentence of his 
superior directed against himself were to come 
to his knowledge, he v^'ould bear it obediently. 
This answer strongly excited the ridicule of 
Gilbert Foliot. 

The Bishop of Winchester was requested to 
send an answer to Northampton to these same 
points that were proposed to his brethren. His 
reply was this : " The Divine law binds a man 
who is summoned to a higher judge not to appeal 
to an inferior ; and he who appeals, is in duty 
bound to carry on his cause. Now I, who am 
worn out by sickness and old age, am summoned 
by the Lord, and am therefore unfit for appeals 
to an earthly tribunal. I pray you to excuse 
my joining in appeals which may bring me under 
an anathema.'' Roger of Worcester, who was 
himself on St.'s side, records these pro- 
ceedings ; and adds, that these two Bishops, 
Bartholomew of Exeter and Henry of Winchester, 
incurred by their answers the suspicions of the 
King's party, and were for the future excluded 
from their cabals. Going further still than this 
in the direction of obedience, four bishops pub- 
lished '^ the letters proclaiming Gilbert's excom- 
munication, the Bishop of Norwich in his first 
synod, and the Bishops of Lichfield, Winchester, 
and Chichester, on the day after they received 

Though Gilbert was unsuccessful with his 
fellow-Bishops, he had recourse to the King, 
who wrote^'' him a letter from St. Macaire on the 

16 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 32S. 17 Materials, vi. pp. 59S, 599. 

320 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 26 

Garonne, in Gascony, giving him leave to appeal. 
" I have heard of the grievance which that 
Thomas my traitor and enemy has inflicted upon 
you and other persons of my kingdom ; and I 
bear it \\ith not less vexation in }our case, than 
I should if he had vomited forth his venom 
against my own proper person." Henry also 
wrote the Pope in his behalf, of which letter 
the following is an extract : "I cannot ade- 
quately marvel that your wisdom should hand 
me over to what I consider most injurious moles- 
tation, who am a devoted son of the Church of 
Rome, ever ready to submit to justice. Now he 
who desists not to afflict the innocent, has added 
a fresh injury to the multitudes that preceded 
it. Supported, as he says, by your Holiness's 
authority, he has just now excommunicated the 
Bishops of London and Salisbury, unconvicted, 
uncited, unadmonished, and while an appeal was 
pending ; and to several of my friends he holds 
out a threat of the same treatment, without any 
reasonable provocation. At all this I am not 
less indignant than if I had been the object of 
his sentence myself. It seems to me that your 
fatherly goodness has, as it were, cast me off; 
that you have ceased to regard the sufferings of 
your son, and will permit my wicked adversary 
to proceed against me as he pleases." 

The further excommunications, threatened at 
Clairvaux on Palm Sunday, were carried into 
effect on Ascension Day. The persons censured 
were Geoffrey Ridel, Arclideacon of Canterbury, 
Robert his vicar, Richard of Ilchester, Richard 

ii6g] CLAIKVAUX. 321 

de Luci, William Giffard, and Adam of Charing. 
It is to be feared that much attention was not 
paid to these sentences ; so that the contagion 
spread in such a way that we are told, that in the 
King's chapel hardly any one was to be found to 
give him the pax, except persons under either the 
major or minor excommunication, — the first in- 
curred by sentences passed upon them by name, 
and the second by communicating with those 
who were excommunicated. Fitzstephen notes 
that Robert and Nigel de Sackville, the King's 
sealbearers, who had been excommunicated at 
Vezelay, died young ; and that Robert the vice- 
archdeacon of Canterbury and the priest of 
Thierlewde (Throwley) died of such grievous 
ulcers, that they seemed stricken by the hand of 

The sentence on Geoffrey Ridel gave one of 
the bishops whom St. Thomas had consecrated 
an opportunity of showing his sense of duty. 
Roger, the son of the Earl of Gloucester, a near 
relation of the King, was Bishop of Worcester ; 
and to him has been attributed the glory of being 
the only Bishop who was willing to be banished 
for St. Thomas's sake. Geoffrey Ridel retained 
his place in the chapel-royal, notwithstanding 
his excommunication. The Bishop of Worcester 
happened to go to Court, where he was well 
received by the King ; who was content to listen 
to his remonstrances, though he would not be 
guided by them. One day they entered the 
chapel, where the King was about to hear Mass. 
The Bishop was in his place, when he saw the 



Archdeacon of Canterbuiy come in ; on which 
he immediately left the chapel. Henry was 
astonished and angry ; yet, though he knew the 
motive well enough, he sent a messenger to him, 
to bid him come back and explain why he had 
gone away. Roger sent him the cause for an- 
swer ; when he received another message from 
the King, to bid him leave the kingdom with all 
speed. The Bishop sent for his retinue, and 
ordered them to follow him, which they did as 
soon as they could get their baggage together ; 
and he then sent word to the King that he 
already had his foot in his stirrup, ''^ and that he 
would leave the country directly. After a while, 
the King broke out into insults and threats ; on 
which one of those about him mustered courage 
enough to expostulate : " My lord, what have 
you done ? You have banished a Bishop who is 
closely united to you in faith and blood. If I 
might sa}^ so, you have not done well. Besides, 
you have given the Archbishop what will please 
him best ; and the Pope, who has had no reason 
for blaming you yet, will now have a cause to 
do so, placed in his way by yourself. You grieve 
your friends, and rejoice your enemies, by banish- 
ing an innocent man, not to say a bishop." The 
King was moved, and sent a horseman after the 
Bishop ; who, however, refused to return. He 
then sent others, and finally, a party mounted 
on fleet horses, with an carl at their head, with 

18 "In strcpa vel orbe tenente pedem seu quo alio dignatur 
nomine" (Fitzstephen, p. S6). "Stirrup put for sty-rope, a rope 
to mount by, from A. S. stigen, pp. of stigau, to mount " (Skeat). 

ii6g] CLAIRVAUX. 323 

orders to bring the Bishop back, whether he 
would or no. Roger returned, and spoke in 
plain terms to the King ; and ever after, while 
the Bishop was there, the Archdeacon never 
entered the chapel nor the King's presence. 

The Pope sent the following letter '^ to St. 
Thomas on the subject of the excommunications, 
dated from Benevento the igth of June : " We 
marvel greatly that, at the time when your 
envoys and others from our well-beloved son in 
Christ, Henry the illustrious King of England, 
were still present at our Court and waiting our 
determination, you should have thought fit, our- 
self not consulted, to utter any sentence against 
the dignitaries of the realm. Moreover, although 
we doubt not your general prudence and circum- 
spection, yet it often happens that persons see 
less clearly in their own cause than in the cause 
of others ; and for this reason, as we are un- 
V'/illing that your sentence should be revoked but 
by your own deed, we advise, counsel, and exhort 
you, as a beloved brother, that in order to miti- 
gate the King's displeasure, you of your own will 
suspend it, till such time as you learn from our 
envoys vs'hether the said King is willing to be 
reconciled, and to realize the promise of your 

" It becomes ourself and you to wait with 
patience, and to tolerate him with all gentleness 
of spirit, for the space of two or three months, that 
we may leave him without excuse. If 3'ou do not 
think fit to accede to this our request, and things 

19 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 22 ; Froude, p. 429. 

324 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 26 

turn out not according to your wish and expecta- 
tion, but, which God avert, to the contrary, you 
must attribute the result to yourself, and not to 
us. But if, according to our wish and suggestion, 
you suspend the sentence till the arrival of our 
envoys, and the King still persists in his obsti- 
nac}', in that case, before the departure of the 
envoys, you shall be at liberty unhesitating!}- to 
revive the sentence without incurring the risk of 
our displeasure. Yea, rather you may look to 
us for every support and assistance." 

This letter seems to take for granted the 
validity of the censures in spite of the want of 
the three canonical citations or monitions, pro- 
bably from the notoriety of the offences and the 
impossibility of serving the warnings. 


THE pope's envoys. 

1 169 — 1 170. 

King Heary tries bribery on a large scale — has recourse to the 
King of Sicily — Gratian and Vivian appointed Envoys by 
the Pope — their interviews with Henry — Gratian returns to 
the Pope with the Archbishop of Sens — St. Thomas threatens 
an interdict, if the King does not repent — the King imposes a 
new oath on his subjects, and obtains a conference with King 
Louis by a pilgrimage to St. Denys — at Vivian's request 
St. Thomas comes to Montmartre and terms are agreed on 
by Henry, who however refuses to ratify them by a kiss, and 
retires to IMantes — St. Thomas lodged in the Temple — the 
English Bishops resist the King — Henry returns to England. 

It was mentioned that King Henry sent other 
messengers to the Pope, when Bernard de la 
Coudre told him the contents of the second 
commonitory letter. It was their business^ to 
see what money could effect in his favour. The 
Emperor Frederic Barbarossa had been so un- 
successful in his invasion of Italy, that the threat 
to join the Antipope was now less likely to be 
carried out than it had been. Henry's present 
object was to see what advocacy his money could 
buy. He offered the Milanese three thousand 
marks and a thorough repair of their fortifica- 
tions, if they would join the other states, which 
I Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 20S ; Froude, p. 435. 

326 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 27 

he was attempting to corrupt, in prevailing on 
the Hoi}' See to depose or translate the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbur}-. On the same conditions 
he promised the citizens of Cremona two thou- 
sand, and those of Parma and Bologna one 
thousand each. To the Pope he offered a re- 
lease from all the demands the Romans made 
on him, and ten thousand marks besides ; and 
to allow him to appoint what pastors he would, 
as well in the Church of Canterbury, as in all 
other sees now vacant in England. A letter- of 
the Saint's of this date shov>-s what dioceses 
were in this condition. " He has now for five 
years," he writes, " held the revenues of our see 
and all our goods, besides the bishoprics of Lin- 
coln, Bath, Hereford, and Ely. The possessions 
of Llandaff he has squandered on his knights ; 
the Bishop of Bangor he will not suffer to be 
consecrated, and that see has been ten years 
without a Bishop." 

On all his offers proving ineffectual, he tried 
next what the power of the King of Sicily could 
do for him ; but neither the Bishop of Syracuse 
with all his efforts, nor yet the labours of Robert 
Count of Basseville, and the other host of inter- 
cessors, nor the great power, weight, and influ- 
ence which that King possessed with the Pope, in 
consequence of the generous way in which he 
had helped the Holy Father in his late troubles 
at Rome, could effect his wishes. His envoys 
were at last dismissed in disappointment, having 
obtained nothing but a promise that the Pope 

2 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 121. 

ii6g— iijo] THE POPE S ENVOYS. 327 

would send fresh envo3"S to mediate a peace. The 
persons selected were very acceptable to St. 
Thomas, being Gratian, a subdeacon and notary 
of the Holy See, a nephew of Pope Eugenius III., 
and Vivian Archdeacon of Orvieto,^ and advocate 
in the Roman courts. They were bound by an 
oath to abide by prescribed terms of peace, which 
they were on no account to exceed. It was also 
in their instructions that their expenses should 
not be defrayed by the King, unless peace were 
granted ; nor were they to remain a day beyond 
the time appointed them. These precautions 
against bribery were, at least in the case of 
Gratian, perfectly successful ; for, when his mis- 
sion was over, he returned with the highest repu- 
tation for integrity.-^ 

On the feast of the x\ssumption, August 15th, 
ii6g, the letters of the new envoys reached the 
King at Argentan. He was much troubled on 
reading them ; and on the following day he sent 
John of Oxford and Reginald, the one the Dean, 
the other the Archdeacon, of Salisbury, to meet 
the envoys, who on the 23rd of August reached 
Domfront. On hearing of their arrival, two ex- 
communicates of the King's party, Geoffrey 
Ridel and Nigel de Sackville, left the town in 
haste, doubtless fearing lest they should be 
treated as such by Gratian and Vivian. That 
very day, late in the evening, King Henry re- 
turned from the forest, and visited the envoys 

3 " Urbis veteris," which Mr, Froude has translated, "of the 
ancient city." 

4 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 277 ; Froude, p. 437. 

328 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 27 

before he went to his own house. He behaved 
towards them with all honour, reverence, and 
humility. While they were exchanging their first 
compliments. Prince Henry, who had been hunt- 
ing with his father, arrived with his youthful 
train blowing their hunting-horns, and bringing 
the stag they had killed as a present to the 

The next morning, at about six, the King again 
waited on them, and they attended him to the 
apartments of the Bishops of Seez and Rennes. 
After some delay, John Dean of Salisbury and 
Reginald the Archdeacon v\ere admitted, and 
soon after the Archdeacon of Llandaff. These 
remained in conversation together till three in 
the afternoon : the}' were standing, and spoke 
sometimes gently, sometimes loudly and angrily. 
The King's object was to obtain the absolution of 
the excommunicate clerics, without their taking 
the oath. Just before sunset the King came out, 
very wroth, complaining bitterly that the Pope 
had never listened to his requests in anything, 
and said with defiance, " By God's eyes, I will 
do something else." Gratian answered mildly, 
" Threaten not, my lord ; we fear no threats, for 
we come from a Court which is accustomed to 
dictate to emperors and kings." Then a convo- 
cation was held of all the barons and white 
monks that were in attendance, and nearly all the 
chapel-royal ; and the King called on them to 
witness the greatness of the offers he had made, 
namely, the restitution of the archbishopric, and 
the restoration of peace. At last he left them 

ii69— II70] THE pope's ENVOYS. 329 

somewhat pacified, and he appointed that day 
week for giving a definite answer. 

On the day named, August 31, the Archbishops 
of Rouen, Bourdeaux, and all the Bishops of 
Normandy, met by appointment at Bayeux, and 
the Bishop of Le Mans accidentally joined them. 
The Bishop of Worcester arrived on the following 
day ; the Bishop of Poitiers excused himself, as 
he was holding a synod, but promised to come 
when it was over. The envoys presented the 
Pope's letters praying for the Archbishop's return 
and reconciliation. After a tirade against the 
Saint, which was the King's only reply, he con- 
cluded by saying, " If I grant any of his lordship 
the Pope's requests for that person, I shall 
deserve many thanks for it." 

The day following, the Bishops met the envoys 
at the King's palace, called Bur, near Bayeux. 
Immediately on their arrival, they all entered the 
park together. The King began by a demand, in 
private, for the absolution of his clerics, without 
their taking the oath. This the envoys positively 
refused ; on which Henry immediately mounted 
his horse, and swore in the hearing of all, that 
never again would he listen to the Pope or any 
one else in behalf of the Archbishop. The 
prelates who were present entreated the envoys, 
for the love of God, to concede this point ; which 
they accordingly did, though most reluctantly. 
The King then again dismounted. Soon after, 
when all in the park were collected, Henry re- 
marked, that he wished them all to know that it 
had not been through him that the Archbishop 

330 ST, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 27 

had left England, and that he had often recalled 
him, that he might explain his conduct, but he 
had always refused ; in the present instance, how- 
ever, in compliance with the Pope's prayers and 
commands, he would restore his archbishopric to 
him in peace, and allow all to return that had 
been banished on his account. This concession 
he made about three o'clock in the afternoon, 
and afterwards was very cheerful and went 
through much other business. 

Later on he returned to the envoys, requesting 
that they would go to England to absolve the 
excommunicates who were in that country. Their 
refusal made him angry, but he urged one of 
them at least to go, or to commission one of their 
clerics, and he would pay their expenses himself. 
This too Gratian refused, and the King shouted 
angrily, " Do what you will, I care not for you 
or your excommunication one egg.'' He then 
mounted his horse and rode off; but on the Arch- 
bishops and Bishops following him and remon- 
strating, he once more returned. The sum of 
their deliberations was, that the Bishops should 
write to the Pope, testifj-ing that in their presence 
the King had offered the Archbishop peace, and 
that he was ready to comply with every command 
of his Holiness, but that the difficulty was raised 
on the part of the envoys. Much time was wasted 
in the composition of the letter, and at last the 
King determined to leave them, quite out of 
patience. The Bishops then informed him that 
the envoys had previously shown thcni a mandate 
from the Pope, commanding every one to obey 

ii69— iiyo] THE pope's ENVOYS, 33I 

whatever they might decree. The King answered, 
" I know, I know, they will interdict my kingdom; 
but shall not I, who can take a strong castle a 
day, be able to take one cleric, if he publishes the 
sentence ? " However, on one or two points 
being conceded, the storm blew over, and Henry 
said, " Unless you make peace this night, you 
will never get to this point again ; " and then 
calling all together, " It behoves me to do much 
at the request of my lord the Pope, who is my 
lord and father, and therefore I restore his see to 
the Archbishop, as well as my favour to him, and 
to all who are banished on his account." The 
envoys and all the others returned thanks, and 
the King added, " If I have been deficient in 
anything to-day, I will make it up to-morrow." 

The next day, September i, they met at the 
same place at noon, and after a long discussion 
about the absolution of the excommunicates, 
whether they should or should not take the oath, 
it was at last agreed that Geoffrey Ridel, Nigel, 
de Sackville, and Thomas Fit2-Bernard should 
place their hands on the Gospels, and declare in 
the word of truth that they would obey the 
instructions of the envoys. A request was then 
made that all the Church property which the 
King had alienated might remain with its new 
holders. This was, however, refused. Then it 
was proposed that the Bishops should draw up in 
writing the terms of peace to which the King 
had consented. The King had insisted on the 
expression being allowed, " that the Archbishop 
should hold his Church to the honour of the King 

332 ST. THOMAS OF CANTEKBUKY. [chap. 27 

and his posterity ; " and this the envoys had 
thought unobjectionable. But on the conference 
breaking up, about nine o'clock at night, the King 
insisted that there should be inserted in the 
terms, " saving the dignity of his kingdom ; " but 
Gratian refused to consent to this on any con- 
dition whatsoever. It was, in fact, the introduc- 
tion of the Constitutions of Clarendon into the 
negotiation, which we should have said had been 
as 3'et unmentioned, were it not that, by sug- 
gesting the change, the King showed what mean- 
ing he had attached to the apparently simple and 
innocent phrase which the envoys had allowed. 

On the 8th of September, the envoys retired to 
Caen, whence they sent to the King to say that 
they would permit the clause he had requested, 
if "saving the dignity of the Church" were also 
introduced. This v.-as refused ; and Henry 
charged them with inconsistency for rejecting a 
qualification which, he maintained, they had in 
the first instance admitted. They then gave the 
King a month for consideration, v,-arning him 
that at the expiration of that time, the sentence 
of the Archbishop would be again put in force 
with respect to the persons whom they had 
absolved. The month passed, and affairs being 
thus restored to their former state, Gratian 
returned, leaving \'ivian behind. The Archbishop 
of Sens accompanied him to the Pope, which 
frightened King Henry much, as he regarded 
these two dignitaries as his most powerful 
opponents. He accordingly despatched other 
messengers in his own behalf to the HolvFatlicr. 

ii69— 1170] THE POPE S ENVOYS. 333 

The Archbishop of Rouen wrote to complain of 
the envoys, and so also did some of the Bishops 
of Normandy, who seem to have become more 
strongly partisans of the King, as those of 
England returned to some sense of their duty. 

For the greater part of a year all restriction 
had been taken off from the exercise of the 
highest ecclesiastical power which St. Thomas 
could use ; he was, moreover, Legate of the Holy 
See ; but he had been very patient, and had 
waited until all hope of the King's repentance 
was gone. He felt that the time was now come ; 
so he issued letters ^ to the principal religious 
houses in England, and to the Bishops or other 
officials of the different dioceses, ordering them 
by his own authorit}* and that of the Apostolic 
See, if the King should not repent and make 
amends to the Church by the feast of Our Lady's 
Purification, February 2nd, 1170, to publish the 
interdict he laid upon them. By this sentence 
all sacraments and rites of religion of every kind 
were prohibited, save only baptism for infants, 
and penance and the Holy Viaticum for the 
dying ; Low Mass would be permitted for the 
consecration of the Blessed Sacrament for the 
sick, but the doors were to be closed, the laity 
excluded, and no bells rung. The religious would 
also be at liberty to recite the Divine Office in a 
low voice, under similar restrictions. The same 
letters, besides denouncing those who were actu- 
ally excommunicated, pronounced a similar sen- 
tence, to date from Christmas, unless before that 
5 Ep. S. Tho. i. pp. 199, 200, 207, 267, 335, 346. 

334 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 27 

time they had given satisfaction, against John of 
Oxford Dean of SaHsbury, Guy Dean of Wal- 
tham, John Cumin, Ralph Archdeacon of Llan- 
daff, and Wimar, a priest attached to the person 
of Earl Hugh. Other letters '^ of a somewhat 
similar tenour, but declaring the interdict to begin 
fifteen days after their publication, were intrusted 
to some of the French Bishops, but they never 
were actually published. 

The King did his utmost to prevent their ad- 
mission into England, threatening those who 
introduced them with the severest punishments. 
He decreed'' that if the bearer were a regular, his 
feet should be cut off; if a cleric, he should be 
blinded and mutilated ; if a layman, he should 
be hanged ; and if a leper, be burned. He caused 
an iniquitous oath to be administered throughout 
the country, that the letters of the Pope and the 
Archbishop should not be received, nor their 
commands obeyed. Maud, Countess of Devon- 
shire,*^ the daughter of Baldwin de Redvers, is 
recorded as having refused to take any such oath, 
or to permit any of her vassals to do so. The 
Archbishop of York also resisted it ; but the other 
Bishops were weak enough to permit it to be 
administered in their dioceses. St. Thomas sent 
secretly to absolve from the obligation of ob- 
serving it all who had been forced into taking it. 

6 Ep. S. Tho. i. pp. 201, 209, 229, 297, 344, 347. 

7 Ibid. p. 252. 

8 Fitzstephen, p. 102. Thomas of Froimont gives a curious 
account of how his father avoided taking the oath by stooping 
and minghng with the crowd of those who had taken it {Aural. 
Bed. p. 256). 

iiGg— 1170] THE POPE'S ENVOYS. 335 

The presence of Gratian, and of William Arch- 
bishop of Sens, at Rome at the same time, and 
the conduct of St. Thomas, frightened the King. 
The course adopted by the Saint probably had 
not the same effect as the issuing of actual letters 
of interdict, as, at the very least, when the term 
named had expired, a declaratory sentence would 
be necessary to prove that the King had remained 
contumacious ; but it was certainly a warmer 
earnest of what would surely follow than any- 
thing that had as yet happened. If Henry asked 
for another interview with the King of France, he 
could hardly hope it would be granted ; he there- 
fore determined on a measure which would bring 
about a conference, even unsolicited. He entered 
the territories of King Louis in the guise of a 
pilgrim to the shrine of the glorious martyr 
St. Denys, which he declared would be an oppor- 
tunity of seeing, for the first time, the young 
prince, Philip ; as it was not right that he should 
be a stranger to the son of his feudal lord, the 
King of France. His scheme completely suc- 
ceeded ; for Louis hastened at once to Paris to 
entertain him ; Henry having also pretended that, 
if he had an opportunity, he would intrust Prince 
Richard to his guardianship. Henr}- at the same 
time consented to terms which satisfied Vivian,"^ 
and led him to urge St. Thomas very warmly to 
join the conference of the Kings to be held at 
St. Denys, on Sunday, November i6th, assuring 
him that he would be met with the h3-mn, " Glory 
to God in the highest, and on earth peace to my 
9 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 253; Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 299. 

336 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 27 

lord of Canterbury.'"" King Louis preferring a 
similar request, St. Thomas consented, and pro- 
mised to meet Vivian at Corbeil on the Friday. 

When the King of England had visited the 
shrine of St. Denys, on the i8th of November, 
where he made an offering of a magnificent cope, 
and four-and-twenty gold pieces, Vivian, in a 
preliminary interview, tried to obtain from him a 
ratification of the promise which he had just 
made of the terms on which he would now con- 
sent to a reconciliation." The King, however, 
behaved in so unsatisfactory a manner, that 
Vivian complained openly both before his face 
and to St. Thomas of his evasive conduct, de- 
claring that he had never met with such a liar ; 
or, as he expressed it in writing to the Pope,'- 
" He is sophistical and captious in every word he 
says about the Church." As Vivian had shown 
himself the most favourable to the King of the 
last two envoys, this strong declaration of his 
was counted of some importance. 

At the foot of the hill of Montmartre, between 
Paris and St. Denys, was a chapel called the 
Holy Martyrdom, marking the spot where St. 
Denys was put to death. Here St. Thomas was 
praying, as King Henry returned from St. Denys. 
A messenger came to hurry him, saying that the 
two Kings and Prince Philip were waiting in the 
plain near the chapel. His reply was, that it was 
becoming in a priest to proceed with gravity. 

10 Ibid. ii. p. 216; i. p. 357. 

II Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 254; Froude, p. 455. 

12 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 221. 

ii69— ii/o: THE pope's ENVOYS. 337 

St. Thomas'^ advanced his petition through the 
Archbishop of Rouen, the Bishop of Seez, and 
Vivian, that the King would restore his royal 
favour to him and his, together with their posses- 
sions and goods which had been seized ; offering 
in turn to show him every kind of deference 
which is due from an Archbishop to a King. The 
prelates who were mediating required that the 
Saint should expressly name all such possessions 
of the see of Canterbury as he required to be 
restored. Length of absence, and the great diffi- 
culty of intercourse with England, rendered it 
impossible for him to say what the King and his 
officials had alienated ; the Saint therefore de- 
manded the restoration of every thing which 
Theobald had held, and all which he had himself 
possessed at the time he attended the Council of 
Tours. Three things, however, in particular he 
named : first, those lands which Henry of Essex 
had held under the Archbishop, on the plea that 
the King, as his feudal lord, having resumed the 
lands which that nobleman had held under the 
crown on the occasion of his attainder, the same 
proceeding ought to be extended to the arch- 
bishopric. The fief of William de Ros the King 
had usurped, contrar}- to his royal oaths ; and of 
this St. Thomas demanded restitution, as well as 
of the Church property bestowed upon John the 
Marshal, whose name appeared so prominently at 
the beginning of the Council of Northampton. 
The mediators expressed their confidence of 
being able to obtain this from the King, without 
13 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 219. 


M"hich St. Thomas declared his determination to 
remain in exile, disdaining^, as he said, to purchase 
peace for himself with the goods of the Church. 
Of obtaining restitution of the revenue and mov- 
able property of which the King had possessed 
himself they were less sanguine, amounting, as it 
was calculated to do, to thirty thousand marks ; 
though some of them thought that perhaps a 
thousand marks might be paid, to enable the 
Archbishop and his companions to meet the ex- 
penses of their return. Urged especially by the 
King of France not to permit a money question 
of a personal character to hinder a reconciliation 
between himself and his King, the Saint said that 
he would be contented with a part only of what 
was due to him. 

King Henry, on his part, declared that he 
readily forgave all the offences of which he had 
complained, and that in the matters now pro- 
posed he was willing to abide by the decision of 
the King of France, or of the clergy of France, 
or the University of Paris. On hearing this, the 
Saint professed himself satisfied ; but he stated 
at the same time, that he would rather settle the 
affair amicably than by litigation, and he there- 
fore made his petition in writing, to prevent 
future misunderstanding and evasion, framing it 
in such moderate terms, " that it was ob\ious to 
all that he would refuse no conditions of peace 
which were not absolutely intolerable for the 
Church." '-^ 

Some time before, the Saint, foreseeing the 

14 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 3S2 ; ii. p. 220. 

iiCg_ii7o] THE POPE S ENVOYS. 339 

probability of negotiations being ultimately suc- 
cessful, and of the King iinally consenting to such 
terms as he could accept, had consulted the Holy 
Father what pledge or guarantee he ought in 
such a case to require. The Pope had advised 
him to ask the King for the kiss of peace, 
thinking it unbecoming for a priest to require an 
oath from his own sovereign. St. Thomas, there- 
fore, now sent to ask Henry to ratify his good 
intentions towards him by the kiss. The King's 
message in reply was brought without remark by 
the mediators to St. Thomas, who was still in the 
chapel, that he would have done so with pleasure, 
if he had not one day in a rage public^ sworn 
never to admit the Archbishop to the kiss again, 
even if he should be reconciled to him ; and that 
this oath was now his sole reason for refusing, 
not that he retained any ill-will whatever. His 
reply to the written petition was, that the Arch- 
bishop should enjoy in peace all that his prede- 
cessors had enjoyed, as well as all his own posses- 
sions ; b}' which phrase he seemed, to those who 
were not familiar with the circumstances, to 
concede everything, while in fact, it was intended 
not to include the Church property which St. 
Thomas had himself recovered, soon after his 
consecration, as well as the benefices v/hich had 
fallen vacant during his exile. King Louis said, 
before Vivian and many others, that unless the 
kiss were granted, he would not advise our Saint 
to put foot in England, though Henry should 
give him a sum of gold equal to a King's ransom ; 
and Count Theobald added, that to do so would 

340 ST. THOMAS OF CANTEKCUKY. [chap. 27 

be mere folly. Kin?.; Henry did not wait for any 
reply, but set off abruptly for Mantes, about 
twelve leagues from Paris, during the whole of 
which ride that evening he uttered frequent re- 
proaches against the Archbishop. Prince Philip 
met him on the road, but their interview was far 
from cordial ; and King Louis, who accom^panied 
him to Mantes, was offended that he had not 
received charge of Prince Richard, afterwards 
our Cceur de Lion, which had been the pretext of 
their meeting. Henr}- v^-as not, however, content 
to break off the negotiations ; so, as a bribe to 
induce him still to try to bring about some 
arrangement, he sent Vivian twenty marks, which 
were scornfully rejected. Gilo Archdeacon of 
Rouen, John of Oxford, and John of Seez, went 
to the Pope to endeavour to prevent the measure 
so much dreaded by Henry, of legatine power 
over his Continental dominions being conferred 
upon the Archbishop of Sens. 

St. again lodged in the Temple, the 
very place where he had lived when he visited 
Paris in all his magnificence as Chancellor. In 
the evening of the Conference, as he was leaving 
the chapel where it had been held, one of his 
party came up to him and said, " To-day we have 
treated of the peace of the Church in the Mar- 
tyrdom, and I believe that by your mart3Tdom 
only will the Church attain peace." The Saint 
briefly answered, " \\'ould that even b}- ni}- blood 
she might be freed ! " 

After Matins that night in the Templars' Choir, 
the companions of the Saint came to expostulate 

Ii69— iiyo] THE POPE S ENVOYS. 34I 

with him on the present state of his affairs. 
While any thin;^ vital had been at stake, they 
said, they had been proud to bear their share 
of his confessorship ; but now the King had 
withdrawn his demand for any oath, without the 
usual salvo of God's honour and the Church's 
dignity ; he had now consented to make resti- 
tution of all Church property ; and there was 
nothing to be exiled for, since his refusal to give 
the kiss of peace might fairly be accounted a 
personal matter, like the repa3'ment of the stolen 
revenue, which the Archbishop had consented to 

While these matters were going on, which at 
length rendered a reconciliation probable, news 
came from England that the Bishops were begin- 
ning to act a more manly part.'^ Geoffrey Ridel 
the Archdeacon of Canterbury, together with 
Richard Archdeacon of Poitiers, and other offi- 
cials, summoned all the Bishops and abbots to 
London in the King's name, to give security that 
they would observe the new edict, and receive no 
messenger from the Pope or the Archbishop with- 
out the royal permission ; nor obey any interdict, 
if such should be promulgated, nor pronounce an 
anathema against any of the King's subjects. 
However, none of the Bishops, nor any abbot, 
except Clarembald, the intruded Abbot of St. 
Augustine's, chose to obey the summons. The 
Bishop of Winchester publicly protested, and 
declared that while he lived he would, at all 
costs, obey the Apostolic decrees, and those of 
15 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 219 ; Froude, p. 45S. 

342 ST. THOMAS OP CANTERBURY. [chap. 27 

the Church of Canterbuiy, to which he had 
professed his feaUy and obedience ; and the noble 
old man charged all his clergy to do likewise. 
The Bishop of Exeter followed his example, 
prepared to obey in all things; and he took refuge 
in a religious house till the storm should pass 
over. The Bishop of Norwich, though expressly 
forbidden in the King's name, excommunicated 
Earl Hugh and some others, according to the 
instructions he had received, even in the presence 
of the royal officials. On descending from the 
pulpit, he placed his pastoral staff upon the altar, 
saying that he would see who dared to extend a 
hand against the Church and its possessions. 
He also entered a religious house, to live with the 
community. The Bishop of Lichfield declared 
his readiness to execute all the orders of his 
ecclesiastical superiors ; and, to secure himself 
from the officers, he took refuge in the Welsh 
part of his diocese. 

Fresh messengers were now sent b}- King 
Henry to the Pope,'^ to retract all that had 
been before demanded, and instructed to leave 
the arrangement of the terms of reconciliation 
entirely to the judgment of the Holy Father. 
The Bishop of Auxerre, and other Norman 
Bishops, took the opportunity of trying to bring 
about another interview between the King and 
the Archbishop. '7 St. Thomas was accordingly on 
his way to the place of meeting, and had reached 
Pontisare with his companions, when the}- were 

16 Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 224. 
17 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 259; Froude, p. 4GJ. 

ii69— iiyo] THE POPE S ENVOYS. 343 

informed that the King had abruptly broken his 
engagement, and would wait no longer at the 
place of conference. This sudden change was 
brought about by the return of some of the King's 
messengers from Rome, asserting, though untruly 
as it turned out, at least in the manner they 
reported, that the Holy Father had consented to 
the absolution of the Bishop of London, and the 
other excommunicates. The King was so elated, 
that he left, declaring that he was going to make 
arrangements for the coronation of his son. Ac- 
cordingly, in March, 1170, he returned to 




1 1 70. 

The Archbishop of Rouen and the Bishop of Nevers receive 
authority from the Pope — they absolve the persons excom- 
municated — St. Thomas's letter to Cardinal Albert — corona- 
tion of Prince Henry by the Archbishop of York — courage of 
the Bishop of Worcester — the Pope repeats the threat of an 
interdict — Henry's msincerity — conference in Traitors' Mea- 
dow — reconciliation. 

The report of the absolution of the excommuni- 
cates which King Henry's messengers had 
brought him, and which served so completely to 
unmask his insincerity in the late negotiations, 
was not altogether without foundation. The 
Pope, probably giving credence to Henry's last 
expressions of submission, and wishing to con- 
ciliate him still further, selected two of the 
Norman Bishops, who had shown themselves of 
late to be his friends, the Archbishop of Rouen 
and the Bishop of Nevers ; and to them he 
intrusted the care of concluding the negotiations, 
and of absolving the excommunicates. From 
this last power, however, the case of the Bishop 
of London was excepted ; and in the other cases 
two conditions were required for its lawful exer- 


cise, the certain hope of reconciliation, and the 
exaction of the usual oaths. These two Bishops 
were instructed by the Pope to urge upon the 
King the immediate fulfilment of the offers 
made by him at the late conference ; and on 
his refusal, they were ordered, after a notice 
of forty days, to lay the kingdom under an 

St. Thomas warned the Bishop of Nevers,^ that 
Henry's first object would be to obtain the abso- 
lutions ; and that when he had once gained his 
point thus far, they would be unable to make any 
further progress with him. The two Bishops, 
when urged by Henry, neglected the condition 
imposed upon them by the Pope, which made a 
certain hope or immediate prospect of reconcilia- 
tion a necessary preliminary, and complied with 
the King's request. Meanwhile Gilbert Foliot 
had been pleading his own cause with the Pope 
in person ; and he was so far successful, that the 
Holy Father removed the exception in his case, 
which had prevented him from benefiting by the 
powers conferred on the two Bishops. He hast- 
ened to the Archbishop of Rouen, by whom he 
was at once absolved, without the presence of 
the Bishop of Nevers, as the Pope's letter 
required, and that with all publicity, on Easter 
Day, 1170. Foliot regarded it as a great triumph; 
and by way of showing this openly, he even 
celebrated pontifically with all solemnity in St. 
Thomas's own Church of Canterbury.^ These 

I Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 302 ; Froude, p. 467. 
2 Ibid i. pj 250] 

346 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

events drew the following letter^ from St. Thomas, 
addressed to one of the Cardinals. 

" I would, my beloved, that your ears were 
within hearing of my countrymen, and that you 
knew the contemptuous sayings against the 
Church of Rome which are being chanted in 
the street of Ascalon ! 

" I know not by what fortune it has come to 
pass, that the side of the Lord is always sacri- 
ficed at the Court of Rome : Barabbas escapes, 
and Christ is crucified. By the authority of the 
Court, our exile, and the sufferings of the Church, 
have been protracted to the end of the sixth 
year. Your lordships have condemned the 
wretched and homeless, and for no other reason, 
I speak it from my conscience, than because 
they are feeble and Christ's little ones, and will 
not recede from the justice of the Lord ; on the 
other hand, you have absolved the sacrilegious, 
the murderer, the robber, persons who have not 
repented, and whose absolution, I say it freely, 
Christ being my authority, would not hold in 
the sight of God, though it were St. Peter that 
pronounced it. In St. Luke's Gospel our Lord 
commands, that ' if thy brother sin against thee, 
rebuke him ; and if he is penitent, forgive it him ; 
and if seven times a day he sin against thee, 
and seven times a day he turn to thee, saying, 
I repent, forgive it him.' Think you the words 
of Christ are idle where He says, ' if he is peni- 

3 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 95; Froude, p. 47S. This was addressed 
to Cardinal Albert, who was one of the Legates sent after his 
death by the Pope to the King. 


tent,' and 'if he turn to thee, saying', I repent?' 
Surel}- in the Day of Judgment He will not admit 
that His words were idle ; nor will He pass over 
those uncondemned, who, against the form He 
prescribes, presume, by vain absolution, to justify 
the wicked, without confession or penance, and 
to save alive the souls that should not live. 

" And now I have done. For the rest I com- 
mit to God His own cause, that God for Whom 
I am proscribed and exiled. Let Him act by 
me as He sees best. It is my intention to give 
the Court no further trouble in this matter. Let 
those seek its protection who are strong in their 
iniquity, and who, after trampling justice under 
foot and leading innocence captive, return glory- 
ing in the shame of the Church." 

The words of this letter breathe in every line 
the same ardent soul that led him when a boy 
to leap into the brook after his hawk, or in later 
times taught him to put on the terrible hair-shirt, 
and to bear severe scourgings three or four times 
in the day. Ever in earnest, there is still the 
same impatience of obstacles that hinder the 
end he has in view, as when he buckled on his 
armour and laid lance in rest for his earthly 
master's cause. That cause ever became his 
own : his Master now is God, and God's cause 
•is his cause ; he looks singly to its attainment, 
and with apostolic liberty he speaks; for "where 
the Spirit of God is, there is liberty." 

The King's threat that he would go to England 
and hasten the coronation of the Prince, was 
not an idle one. For some time past he had 


entertained this wish, apparently with the view 
of hindering, in some degree, the effect of per- 
sonal sentence of excommunication against him- 
self. His difficulty in this project was, that the 
coronation of the Sovereign was one of the un- 
doubted prerogatives of the see of Canterbury. 
Reginald of Salisbury advised him to request 
the Pope to empower some other Bishop to per- 
form the ceremony ;-^ and on his replying that he 
believed it to be impossible to obtain such a 
favour, Reginald answered, " Our lord the Pope 
will act like a dolt and a fool, if he does not 
grant your petition." The request may have 
been made and have met with success ; for two 
letters of Alexander's are still extant,^ empower- 
ing Roger, the Archbishop of York, to crown the 
young Prince. Their genuineness, however, is 
very questionable. The plea which Henry urged 
in his own excuse afterwards, and which doubt- 
less was the pretext used at the time to justify' 
the usurpation, St. Thomas'" learned from the 
King's own lips, and he related it to the Pope. 
It would seem, then, that after Theobald's death, 
while Canterbury was vacant and St. Thomas 
still Chancellor, Henr}' had entertained the wish 
that his son might be crowned, though he was 
then a child but six or seven years old. Roger 
de Pont I'Eveque was in such disfavour that 

4 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 226. 

5 Ep. S.Tho. ii. pp. ^3, 45. It was reported, so the Bishops 
of Noyon and Paris wrote to the Pope (Ep. Gilb. Pol. ii. p. 230), 
on the return of Richard Barre and Ralph Archdeacon of 
Llandaff, that such a power had been granted. 

(J Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 70. 


St. Thomas was able to remind Kenry that he 
had said, that he would rather his son were 
beheaded, than that he should have Roger's 
"heretical hands" laid upon him. In order 
to prevent any claim on the part of the Arch- 
bishop of York to exercise this ,i;reat function 
during the vacancy of the see of Canterbur}-, 
Henry applied to the Pope that his son might 
be crowned by any bishop whom he might 
choose. This faculty he now brought forward 
in favour of the very Prelate v.'hom it had been 
obtained to exclude. St. Thomas, on the other 
hand, previous to the negotiations respecting 
the absolution of the Bishop of London, had 
received from the Holy Father letters, 7 dated 
February 26th, and still earlier from Anagni, in 
November, others again from the Lateran, April 
5th, forbidding any one but the Archbishop of 
Canterbury to perform the ceremony. St. Thomas 
did his best to send these letters into England ; 
but the watch that was kept up was so vigilant, 
that it would appear that no copy escaped until 
the very Saturda}' before the coronation. They 
were then delivered'' to the Archbishop of York 

7 Rymer's Fccdcva, i. p. 29. St. Thomas's own letters to the 
Bishops (Ep. S.Tho. i. pp. 190, 227). 

S Fitzstephen (p. 103) says so expressly. St. Thomas asked 
the King why he had driven Roger and the other Bishops into 
disobedience; " lox they had received the prohibition of our lord 
the Pope that they should not presume to do this in any way in 
our absence" (Ep. S.Tho. i. p. 70). Roger of York took oath 
after the m.artyrdom, that he had not received them (Diceto, 
p. 55S). One set of letters was certainly destroyed (Ep. S.Tho. 
ii. p. 2SS). 

350 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

and the Bishop of London, only to be entirely 

After the return of St. Thomas to the Abbey 
of St. Columba, near Sens, he told Herbert one 
morning that he was convinced that Prince 
Henry would not live long; for as he lay sleep- 
less, after Matins, thinking of the King, his 
greatness and wonderful prosperity, and while 
musing especially over what might be the future 
fate of Prince Henry, his former pupil, to whom 
he was much attached, and of one of his brothers, 
either Richard or Geoffrey, — as he was dropping 
off to sleep, he heard a voice which said. 

Mors tulit una duos, tulit altera sed male patrem. 

Herbert says that St. Thomas never VNTote a line 
in his life, never having been taught to versify 
when 3'oung; and he adds, that he thought he 
had lived to see the fulfilment of the verse. The 
story is interesting, as showing the feelings of 
affection the Saint still entertained for the Prince, 
whom he calls " our Henry," notwithstanding the 
ceremony which was then being performed at 
Westminster, of which that Prince was the cen- 
tral figure. 

The King summoned the Bishops and barons 
to meet in London on Sunday, June I4th.^ The 
Queen was not to leave Normandy, and for some 
unexplained reason the Princess Margaret was 
to remain with her ; but Richard of Ilchester 
was sent to hasten the Prince's movements, as 
his father was waiting for him on the English 

9 Ep. S. Tho. ii. pp. O4, 2S7, 299. 


coast ; and he speedily crossed the Channel, 
attended by the Bishops of Bayeux and Stez. 
When the Sunday came, Prince Henry, who 
had been previously knighted by the King, was 
crowned by the Archbishop of York ; and, as if 
to render the outrage more flagrant, not only 
was the usual coronation oath to maintain the 
liberty of the Church omitted, but another was 
substituted in its place, to observe the royal . 

Immediately afterwards, Henry returned to 
Normand}'. Before he had left for England, he 
had ordered the Bishop of Worcester to be 
present at the coronation ; the Bishop accord- 
ingly went to Dieppe. The King had crossed, 
when the Queen, who remained at Caen with 
Richard de Humet, the Justiciary of Normandy, 
fearing lest he should interfere with the coming 
invasion of the Archbishop's rights, sent him 
fresh directions not to cross the Channel ; and 
she ordered the provost of Dieppe and the ship- 
owners not to permit his passage. When Henry, 
on his return, was approaching Falaise, the 
Bishop went out three miles to meet him. 
The King began at once to insult him : " Now 
you are plainly a traitor. I myself ordered you 
to be present at my son's coronation ; and, 
though I named the day, you have chosen to 
be absent : you have shown plainly enough that 
you have no love for me, nor for my son's pro- 
motion. Now I see that you favour my enemy, 
and hate me and mine : but you shall no longer 

10 Ep. S. Tho. ii. pp. 33, 50, S4. 

352 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

have the revenues of 3-our bishopric ; I will take 
them away from you, for }ou have shown your- 
self unworthy of bishopric or beneiice. Truly 
you never were the son of the ^ood Earl Roger, 
my uncle, who brought n'ou and me up together 
in that castle, and had us there taught our 
letters and our manners." The Bishop, in repl}-, 
mentioned the simple fact of the prohibition 
which he had received when in the port ; but 
the King would not believe him, and said, still 
in a violent passion, "The Queen is in the castle 
at Falaise, and Richard de Humet is not far 
off; do you quote them as your authorities?" 
"Certainly not the Queen," said the Bishop; 
" for if, through fear of you, she should suppress 
the truth, you would be in a greater rage with 
me ; and if she were to confess it, you would be 
shamefully mad with that noble lady. I am not 
of sufficient consequence that for m\' sake she 
should hear one rough word from you. It is 
well I was not present at that coronation, which 
was offensive to God, not on the Prince's account, 
but on the prelate's ; and if I had been there, I 
would not have suffered it to be performed. 
You say that I am not the son of Earl Roger. 
"Whether I am. or not, I cannot tell ; but you 
do not show by }'our gratitude that that same 
Earl Roger, my father, was your uncle, who 
brought you up as became your birth, and after 
fighting \our battles, offensive and defensive, with 
King Stephen for sixteen years, was at last taken 
prisoner on your account. If you had thought 
of these things, you never would have reduced 


my brothers as you have. You have reduced 
the tenure and honour of a thousand men, which 
your grandfather the great King Henry gave to 
my father, to a fief of two hundred and forty, 
and thus injured my brother the earl. Then 
my younger brother, who has the reputation of a 
brave soldier, you have suffered to fall into such 
poverty, that on that account he has left secular 
life and service, and has taken the perpetual 
vow, with the ensign and habit of the Hospital 
of Jerusalem. These are the advantages you 
confer on your relations and friends : thus you 
requite those who deserve well of you. As for 
your threat of taking away the revenues of my 
bishopric, — take them, if you are not satisfied 
with those of the archbishopric and six vacant 
sees, and many abbeys, which you receive to 
the peril of your soul, and turn to secular uses, 
the alms of your fathers, the good kings, and 
the patrimony of Jesus Christ." These words, 
and more of the same sort, were said in the 
hearing of all who were riding with the King. 
A knight of Aquitaine, who did not know the 
Bishop, asked who was speaking ; and on being 
told who it was, he said, " It is lucky for him 
that he is a churchman ; if he were a soldier, 
the King would not leave him two acres." An- 
other, thinking to please Henry, reproached the 
Bishop bitterly; but the King, turning to him 
in indignation, loaded him with the foulest abuse, 
saying, among other things, " You vile fellow, 
do you think that because I say what I like to 
my cousin the Bishop, you or any other person 


354 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

may insult or threaten him ? I can scarcely 
keep my hands off your eyes ; it is too bad for 
you and the others to abuse a Bishop." They 
arrived at their resting-place ; and after dinner 
the King and the Bishop talked apart amicably 
on the subject of a reconciliation with St. Thomas. 
To the honour of the Bishop of Worcester be 
it recorded, that he took every opportunity of 
sending assistance to our Saint ; and while the 
justiciaries made this a frequent pretext for per- 
secuting abbots and other ecclesiastics, they never 
dared to molest the Bishop on that account. 

All this time, the Archbishop of Rouen and 
the Bishop of Nevers were doing nothing to 
bring Henry to terms, in conformity with the 
Pope's instructions. They had been ordered to 
follow a monition of an interdict by the sentence 
itself within forty days, if the King did not ratify 
his former proposals ; and the very power of 
absolving the excommunicates, which they had 
used, was only conferred to be emplo5^ed in case 
of the certain hope of reconciliation. The Arch- 
bishop of Sens wrote to the Pope to complain 
of their dilatoriness ; and in consequence, fresh 
letters came from the Holy Father, ordering 
them to bring the King to a conference within 
twenty days, and then, within forty more, to lay 
the kingdom under interdict. These letters were 
sent, in the first instance, to St. Thomas, who, 
for reasons which have not come down to us, 
delayed to forward them. The two Bishops 
made a faint and ineifectual attempt to cross 
the Channel while the King was in England ; 


but on his return, they had the conference with 
him which the Pope required. It seems singular 
that the coronation of the Prince is nowhere 
spoken of as an offence committed by the King 
against the Archbishop's rights ; but, as will be 
subsequently seen, the prelates who performed 
it were alone punished as guilty. Henry con- 
sented at once to all the terms which had been 
proposed at Montmartre, repeating, however, his 
refusal to take or give the kiss of peace. The 
Pope had suggested that in this case the Arch- 
bishop might receive the kiss from Prince Henry, 
or, as he is henceforward called, the young King; 
but St. Thomas did not ultimately press for that 
sign of amity in the subsequent negotiations. 

From this moment the question arises, which 
is of such vital consequence to the character of 
King Henr}' II., and on which his personal re- 
sponsibility for the martj'rdom of St. Thomas 
really depends, whether, that is, he w^as sincere 
in his desire for a reconciliation, and in the 
arrangements which he now concluded. It must 
be acknowledged, that his refusal to give the 
kiss is not the only suspicious circumstance 
w^hich leads us to doubt how the oath, which he 
took before his absolution, after the martyrdom, 
could have been sincere. Fitzstephen tells us that 
"some one wrote to the King to ask, ' Wh}' is the 
Archbishop kept out of the kingdom ? He had 
far better be kept in than kept out.' The hint 
was given to one who understood it. The King 
forthwith arranged a conference to treat of a 
peace, and there conceded everything which 


before he had refused." Then, beyond doubt, 
the apparent object of the coronation of his son 
is precisely that which is suggested by the same 
writer: "But first he caused his son to be 
crowned with all despatch, on account of a 
certain result which might possibly take place ; 
so that, if a crime were committed, the kingdom 
could not be punished on his account, seeing 
that he would be no longer the King of it."" 

On the i6th of July, the Archbishop of Rouen 
and the Bishop of Nevers went to inform St. 
Thomas, who was still at Sens, of Henry's readi- 
ness to comply with the terms which were re- 
quired of him. The Kings of England and 
France held a conference on the 20th and 21st, 
in a plain between the two castles of Viefui and 
Freitval, on their borders ; which plain the poor 
exiles afterwards learnt was called by the inhabi- 
tants Traitors' Meadow. The Archbishop of 
Sens had pressed St. Thomas to attend this 
conference, in company with himself and the 
two Bishops, adding, that a peace could never 
be effected between them while they kept aloof 
from one another. The Saint was, in the first 
instance, very unwilling to attend unbidden ; but 
at last he acquiesced. The Kings settled their 
affairs without making any mention of the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury ; so that, after their second 
day's conference, his clerics returned to him, 
bringing news that the business was over, and 
the Kings on the point of retiring ; and it was 
greatly feared that they, who had attended un- 
II Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 301 ; Froude, p. 498. 


invited, would retire disgraced. In the interval, 
however, the Bishops, who had accompanied the 
Saint, had been interceding with the King, who 
consented to an interview on the following day, 
which was the feast of St. Mary Magdalen. He 
promised to abide by the Pope's commands in 
every point, excepting the matter of the kiss, 
adding, on his oath, that if he refused, it was 
not from any design against St. Thomas : and, 
calling God to witness this, he prevailed on the 
Archbishop of Sens to pledge himself for its 
truth. He even said, that he would yield in 
this point, however reluctantly, rather than part 
finally at variance. The Archbishop of Sens 
returned to the Saint, and told him how gracious 
the King had seemed both in his manner and 
words ; and intreated him not to mar the pros- 
pect of returning kindness by insisting on the 
kiss ; adding that Henry had promised publicl}', 
that, on returning to his own dominions, he 
would receive him with the kiss, and every 
demonstration of gratitude. The Saint "was 
prepared even to lay down his life for his sheep," 
— a phrase used in a letter describing these cir- 
cumstances, which shows how little credit St. 
Thomas's friends attached to the King's protesta- 
tions ; and he therefore yielded to the advice of 
the Archbishop of Sens, and late in the evening 
his answer was laid before Henry.'- 

12 St. Thomas was entertained at the time of his reconciliation 
to the King, by Emmeline, a lady of Chaumont, who years after 
pointed out the place where his bed was laid to Ralph, a priest 
of Angers, by whose advice, as she was old and ill and could not 
undertake a pilgrimage to Canterbury, she slept on the same spot 
and was cured (Will. Cant. p. 450). 

358 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

That night the King of England was the guest 
of the King of France. The following allusion 
to the coming day was heard to pass between 
them: "To-morrow," said King Henry, "that 
thief of yours shall have peace, and a good one 
too." "What thief, pray," replied Louis, "by 
the saints of France ? " " That Archbishop of 
Canterbury of ours," was the answer. King 
Louis rejoined, " I wish he were ours as well as 
yours ; you will please God and man if you 
make a good peace with him, and I shall be 
ever grateful to you."'^ 

On the morning of the feast, July 22, at dawn 
of day, the King, with a vast multitude in his 
train, set out for the spot which had been agreed 
on by himself and the King of France for the 
interview. King Louis was not himself present. 
St. Thomas arrived rather later, attended by the 
Archbishop of Sens and Count Theobald. The 
other French also, who had attended the con- 
ference between the Kings, crowded to the spec- 
tacle in great numbers. At the first sight that 
Henry caught of the Saint's approach, he darted 
forward from the midst of his party, and made 
straight up to him with his head uncovered, in 
order to be the first to give the salutation. They 
exchanged greetings, offered right hands, and 
embraced ; so that some thought the King had 
broken the oath which they had heard him swear, 
that he would not admit the Archbishop to the 
kiss. Henry then retired with the two Arch- 
bishops ; and St. Thomas addressed him respect- 
13 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 65; Froude, p. 503. 


ing the injuries done to himself and the Church, 
in a discourse which the Archbishop of Sens 
declared was most moving and pertinent. After 
this, the King and the Saint conversed together 
for the greater part of the day, so long, indeed, 
as to weary out all who were in attendance. 
The anxiety and attention with which they were 
watched by the bystanders may be gathered from 
the fact, that it was remarked that St. Thomas 
shifted frequently from side to side in the saddle, 
w^hich they afterwards knew to have been caused 
by the irritation occasioned by the hair-drawers 
that he wore. At length, however, a sight was 
seen which struck all with amazement. St. 
Thomas, on a sudden, dismounted, and knelt 
at the King's feet ; the King sprung from his 
horse in haste, and taking hold of the stirrup, 
obliged the Saint to remount, saying with emo- 
tion, " My Lord Archbishop, what more ? Let 
us renew our old intimacy ; let us henceforth be 
friends, and forget our past enmity. Only, I beg^ 
of you, give me honour in the sight of those 
who are standing by." 

He then passed over to his party, and said, 
** Now that the Archbishop has shown such good 
intentions, if I, in my turn, did not show as good, 
I should indeed be the worst of men, and should 
verify all the evil that has been said of me. I 
believe I can do nothing wiser or better than 
try to surpass the Archbishop in kindness, 
charity, and good offices." It is only just to 
Henry's impulsive character to believe him to 
have been in earnest for the moment. 

360 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

The King then withdrew, and St. Thomas was 
able to explain to his friends what had caused 
so striking a termination of the conference. 
After the other subjects had been spoken of, 
St. Thomas said, that it was necessary for the 
King's own welfare and that of his children, as 
well as for the preservation of the power which 
God had given him, that he should make formal 
reparation to his mother, the Church of Canter- 
bury, for his late most grievous injustice to her, 
in having, by an enormous violation of her most 
ancient privilege, and contrary to the Pope's 
letter, caused his son to be crowned b}^ the 
hands of the Archbishop of York ; a prelate, 
blind, headstrong, and presumptuous enough to 
perform that rite in another Archbishop's pro- 
vince. For some time the King showed a reluc- 
tance to admit this charge, and said, though not, 
he protested, in any spirit of contention, that an 
Archbishop of York had crowned William the 
Conqueror, and a Bishop of Hereford had done 
the same for King Henry his grandfather, so 
that he might conclude that it was open to a 
king to choose the prelate who should crown 
him. The Saint showed in reply, that, in the 
first instance, Stigand, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, had never received the pallium, so that 
the see was, to all intents and purposes, vacant ; 
and that, in the second case. Archbishop St. 
Anselm being in exile, the Bishop of Hereford 
was his deputy, and the Archbishop of York had 
made no claim. And further, that on the return 
of St. Anselm, his royal grandfather had acknow- 


ledged the rights of Canterbury by requesting to 
be crowned anew by him. Henry rejoined, that 
he had had leave from the Pope to choose any 
Bishop for the ceremony ; but St. Thomas re- 
minded him that when that leave was granted, 
there was no Archbishop of Canterbury, that its 
object had been to exclude this very Roger, and 
that, at any rate, the later prohibitions of the 
Pope revoked the former concessions. He did 
not say these things from any wish to lower or 
disgrace the Prince, whose success and glory, on 
the contrary, he desired, and would endeavour 
to promote by every means in the Lord, as in 
Stephen's time he had laboured hard to maintain 
the King's own right to the crown. 

Henry, with a look of good humour, and in a 
cheerful tone, replied, " You have a double right 
to love my son ; for I made you his father, as 
you may remember, and gave him into your 
hands. And his love for you is such, that he 
cannot endure the sight of any of your enemies. 
He would have used coercion to them before 
now, only his reverence and dread of me pre- 
vented him. But as soon as he has the oppor- 
tunity, I know he will take vengeance, and a 
severer one even than he ought. I doubt not 
that the Church of Canterbury is the noblest of 
all the Churches of the west ; she consecrated 
me ; and so far from wishing to deprive her of 
her rights, I will in this instance, as 3'ou advise, 
take measures for her relief, and restoration to 
her ancient dignity. But as for those who up 
to this time have betrayed the interests of both 

362 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

of US, I will, with God's help, answer them as 
traitors deserve." He added, that St. Thomas 
should crown Margaret, his son's wife, and as 
an acknowledgment of the rights of his Church, 
he should repeat the coronation of the young 
King. This it was which made the Saint leap 
from his horse ; there was apparently no longer 
anything to separate him from his flock. 

Those who were present were called together, 
and before them Henry declared that he restored 
to the Archbishop his royal favour, together with 
his Church, and all its possessions entire. It 
was arranged that one of the Saint's clerics 
should go to the King before long for a letter 
to his son, which should empower and command 
a full restitution ; and Herbert was the one to 
whom this matter was confided. As many of 
the co-exiles of the Saint as were there then 
came forward, and did obeisance at the King's 
feet ; and he promised to reinstate them all. 

After consulting with the Archbishop of Sens 
and his other friends, St. Thomas drew up a 
memorial recounting the points to which the 
King had consented, amongst which the case of 
the coronation was particularly specified. This 
was presented through the Archbishop of Sens, 
and was ratified by the King. That Henry ex- 
pressly and publicly consented to the punishment 
of the Bishops, who had merely executed his will, 
is perfectly certain ; but as it is a point of the 
very greatest consequence, since the anger that 
led to the martyrdom was excited by the course 
here agreed to by the King himself, and as, just 


before his death, St. Thomas solemnly reminded 
Fitz-Urse of this very consent, it will be well to 
insert the words of another witness. ^■' " I was 
present," writes Theobald Count of Blois to the 
Pope, " I was present when the King of England 
received the Archbishop of Canterbury with every 
sign of peace and good-will. In my presence his 
lordship of Canterbury complained to the King 
of the coronation of his son ; and as he was 
conscious that he had inflicted an injury, he pro- 
mised satisfaction. Complaint was then made 
of the Bishops who had dared to place the new 
King on the throne, against the right and honour 
of the Church of Canterbury ; and the King gave 
him free and lawful power over them, that, at 
your Holiness's pleasure or at his, sentence might 
be pronounced against them. These things I 
saw and heard, and I am ready to attest and 
confirm them by an oath, or in whatever other 
mode you may prefer." 

St. Thomas and the King, when these conces- 
sions had been publicly made, conversed together 
alone till evening, as familiarly as in the days of 
their friendship ; and it was agreed on parting, 
that the Saint should return to pay a visit of 
thanks to the King of France and his other 
benefactors, and to arrange his affairs ; and then 
go and stay with Henry, previous to embarking 
for England, to show how perfectly their intimacy 
was restored. St. Thomas, however, subsequently 
determined to wait in France till he heard from 
the envoys he was about to send that restitution 
1+ Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 211. 

364 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 28 

was actually made ; for as long as the King re- 
tained a foot of Church land, he could not trust 
his sincerity. 

As he was leaving, the Bishop of Lisieux openly 
said that, as the King had taken his followers 
into favour again, the Saint ought to adopt a 
similar course towards all who had opposed him. 
He answered that the cases could not be classed 
together, but that, as far it was possible, he wished 
to be in peace and charity with all ; and, having 
first consulted with the King, he would endeavour 
that every thing should be so arranged with refer- 
ence to the honour of God and the Church, that 
if any failed in obtaining absolution (which God 
forbid), the blame would be chargeable upon 
themselves only. Geoffrey Ridel Archdeacon of 
Canterbury stepped in, and began some swelling 
reply, when the King, to prevent any revival of 
old animosities, drew the Saint out of the crowd, 
begging him not to mind what such persons said. 
He then asked the Archbishop's blessing, which 
concluded the conference. 



1 1 70. 

King Henry does not keep his engagements — St. Thomas has 
various interviews with the King — the Pope's action — the 
Saint prepares to return to England — the King's leave to 
excommunicate the Bishops concerned in the coronation — 
indications of coming danger — last words with the King — 
John of Salisbury precedes the Saint, who leaves Sens, and 
passes through Flanders^from Wissant he sends the Pope's 
letters of censure to three Bishops in England — further indi- 
cations of danger— St. Thomas crosses from Wissant to 
Sandwich — his reception and entrance into Canterbury. 

St. Thomas' wrote at once to inform the Pope 
and Cardinals of the reconciliation which had 
taken place. It is a striking proof how well 
King Henry was understood by them, that their 
joy was mingled with mistrust. As Cardinal 
Albert expressed it,- "the Ethiopian does not 
easily change his skin, nor the leopard his spots." 
Events soon showed that Henry was determined 
to be consistent with himiself, and violate his 
engagements, however recent and however 

Messengers were sent over into England by St. 
Thomas, carrying letters from the King to his 

1 Ep. S. The. i. p. 65 ; Froude, p. 503. 

2 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 119; Froude, p. 519. 

366 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

justices, ordering restitution to be made of the 
Church property. Such benefices as had fallen 
vacant during the exile of the Saint had been 
given away. In the first instance, Henry's nomi- 
nees were ejected, and the clerics appointed by 
St. Thomas obtained possession ; but they were 
soon dispossessed again, and the intruders rein- 
stated. It was also remarked by thoughtful 
observers, as an important sign of the King's 
intentions, that the Archbishop's Michaelmas 
rents were received by the royal officers as before. 
The messengers of the Saint^ wrote to him from 
England, to the effect that all his friends whom 
they had met despaired so completely, that even 
when they showed them the King's letters, with 
his great seal hanging to them, and declared that 
they had themselves been present at the recon- 
ciliation, and even stated this on oath, they could 
hardly obtain credence. The only person whom 
they could get to co-operate with them was 
Robert, the Sacristan of Canterbury. They had 
had interviews with the young King, but without 
any satisfactory result. The date of this letter is 
in the first week of October."^ It was forwarded 
by St. Thomas to the Pope, with the complaint 
that nothing had yet been gained from Henry but 
bare words. John of Salisbury and Herbert of 
Bosham had previously been sent to the King 
himself. They had found him in Normandy ; 
but as he was suffering from a tertian fever, it 
was long before they could see him on the sub- 

3 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 306; Froude, p. 512. 

4 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 77; Froude, p. 516. 


ject. At their last interview, Henry said to John 
of Salisbury, " O, John, I will never give you the 
castle, unless I see you behave to me differently 
than you have yet behaved." This was an appli- 
cation either for Rochester Castle, or for Salt- 
wood, the fief of Henry of Essex, which Ran- 
dulf de Broc occupied. ^ 

When St. Thomas heard that the King was 
about to give an interview to one of his firm 
friends, Theobald Count of Blois, he determined 
to be present. It took place at Tours, on the 
I2th of November. The evening before, the 
Archbishop arrived ; but it was noticed that 
though the King came out to meet him, he did 
not look kindly upon him or his companions. 
Nigel de Sackville, whose name had figured in 
some of the lists of the excommunicated, was 
the King's seal-bearer and one of his clerics, and 
had received from his master the Church of 
Harrow, which was one of the vacant benefices. 
Fearful of being obliged to restore it, he was not 
over-anxious for peace. The King thought that 
he should have some difficulty the next morning in 
refusing the kiss of peace to the Archbishop, if 
they should hear the same Mass ; but Nigel de 
Sackville relieved him of his difficulty, by recom- 
mending him to have a black Mass celebrated, in 
which the Pax is not given. After Mass, as usual, 
the Salve Sancta Parens was said in honour of our 
ever-blessed Lady ; after which the priest kissed 
the text of the Gospel, and carried it to the Arch- 
bishop, and then to the King, for them to kiss. 
5 Ep. S. Tho. ii. pp. 185, 262. 

368 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

St. Thomas then said, " My lord, I have come to 
you in your own dominions, now give me the kiss 
according to your promise." The King said, 
" Another time you shall have enough." 

On another occasion, the Saint met the King 
at a castle near Blois, in order that he might 
carry out the advice of the envoys, and see as 
much of him as possible, in order to confirm the 
reconciliation. In the course of familiar and 
cheerful conversation, Henry said to him, " Oh, 
why do you not do my will ? I certainly would 
put every thing into j'our hands." When St, 
Thomas repeated this to Herbert, he told him 
that it reminded him of the saying in the Gospel, 
" All this will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down 
and worship me." 

Even before St. Thomas's last letter reached 
the Pope, his Holiness was determined to enforce 
the terms of the reconciliation which had been 
concluded. On the 9th of October, he issued 
from Anagni^ letters to the Archbishops of Rouen 
and Sens, and the Bishop of Nevers, enjoining 
them to threaten the King with an immediate 
interdict ; and all occupiers of Church lands were 
ordered to make restitution forthwith, under pain 
of excommunication. Full powers, dated Segni, 
October 13,^ excepting only the persons of the 
King, the Queen, and the Princes, were lodged 
in the Saint's hands, as Apostolic Legate. Sen- 
tence of suspension had been pronounced by 
the Pope at Veroli, on the loth of September,** 

6 Ep. S. Tho. ii. pp. 63, 72. 7 Ibid. ii. p. 29, 

8 Ibid. ii. pp. 32, 4S, 82. 


against the Archbishop of York and the other 
Bishops who were present at the coronation ; 
while the Bishops of London and Sahsbury, by 
letters dated Ferentino, September i6, were 
replaced under the excommunication from which 
they had been absolved. In these letters the 
substitution by the Bishops, on that occasion, 
of the Constitutions of Clarendon for the Coro- 
nation Oath was naturally dwelt on by the Pope 
as an additional cause for the punishment 
which was inflicted ; for several of those Con- 
stitutions had been condemned by him. St. 
Thomas, in his letter of complaint against the 
King,^ requested the Pope to withdraw the men- 
tion of the Constitutions, as being particularly 
calculated to irritate him ; while the part taken 
by the Bishops in the young King's coronation 
was abundantly sufficient cause for their censure, 
and one in which Henry had acquiesced. He 
also begged that the sentences of all the Bishops, 
but that of the Archbishop of York, might be 
intrusted to his discretion. The Pope consented,^" 
writing from Frascati on the 24th of November, 
and as he urged St. Thomas to return to England, 
in spite of the King's non-fulfilment of his 
engagements, the Saint now prepared for his 

The French nobles provided him and his com- 
panions with everything that was necessary, with 
such liberality, that when he actually started 
there were more than a hundred horses in his 

9 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 77; Froude, p. 524. 
10 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 85. 


370 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

train. His farewell visit to King Louis was ver}- 
affectionate and moving. He must indeed have 
found it difficult to express his gratitude for the 
truly royal treatment he had received from him. 
In their conversation, the Archbishop showed his 
sense of the danger to which he was now ex- 
posing himself. "We are going to England," 
he said, " to pla}^ for heads." " So it seems to 
me," said Louis. " My Lord Archbishop, if you 
followed my advice, you would not trust yourself 
to your King, as long as he refuses the kiss of 
peace. Remain ; and as long as King Louis lives, 
the wine, the food, and the wealth of France 
shall never fail you." The Saint answered, 
" God's will be done ; " and they parted with 
tears, to meet again, we may hope, in that land 
where even a cup of cold water given in the name 
of a disciple does not lose its reward. 

The parting words of St. Thomas to the Bishop 
of Paris were : " I am going to England to die." 
And, indeed, stories were afterwards told which 
showed that some people believed that such 
a fate was deliberately- prepared for him. A 
priest, named Richard de Halliwell, was told by 
one of the sergeants of the King's Court, that he 
had with his own hands sealed the letters which 
were sent to England to command the death of 
the Archbishop, and that Nigel de Sackville had 
written them ; and he added, that he had con- 
fessed this before to an English Bishop and 
asked for a penance, but the Bishop had said, 
"What for? you did your lord's command;" 
and, as if he had done no harm, enjoined him 


nothing. Another anecdote is also very signifi- 
cant. Reginald de Warrenne one day entered the 
chapter of the Canons of Southwark, with whom 
he was very intimate, and said to them, " Pray 
heartily to God for me, for I have great need of 
it. Soon, perhaps, you will hear that something 
has been done in England, such as never before 
has been heard of: as far as I am concerned, 
it is quite against my will, but I am not my own 

The Saint wrote to Henry in the following 
terms," expressive of the same tone of mind as 
that which pervaded his farewell to King Louis. 
After showing what procrastination there had 
been in making restitution, he said, " Meantime, 
Randulf violently outrages the property of the 
Church, collects our stores into the castle at Salt- 
wood, and, as we have been informed by those 
who can prove it, has, in the hearing of many, 
boasted that we shall not long enjoy our peace ; 
' for that, before we have eaten a loaf of bread in 
England, he will take away our life.' Your high- 
ness knows that voluntarily to overlook a wrong 
is to participate in the guilt. Yet this Ran- 
dulf is plainly relying on your countenance and 
authority ; for how else could he venture so far ? 
What was the answer he returned to your son's 
letters ? We leave this for your discretion to 
reflect upon, when you are informed of it. 

" Forasmuch, however, as there are plain indi- 
cations that, through hatred of our person, the 
mother of the British Churches is in danger of 
II Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 3S0; Froude, p. 526. 

372 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

perishing, we, in order to save her from this fate, 
are prepared, God wilHnf^, to surrender our hfe 
into the hands of Randulf and his accompHces 
in persecution ; yea, and to die a thousand deaths 
for Christ's sake, if His grace enables us. I had 
intended, my lord, ere now to have returned to 
you, but the necessities of the afflicted Church 
draw me to her side. With your favour and 
permission, I purpose returning to her ; perhaps, 
unless your timely pit}' ordain it otherwise, to die 
for her. Yours, whether we live or die, now and 
ever in the Lord." 

When the part that was actuall}- taken by 
Randulf de Broc in the martyrdom is remem- 
bered, this letter cannot but be regarded as very 
remarkable. His parting with King Henry is 
thus told. " Go in peace," said the 'King ; " I 
will see you at Rouen or in England as soon as I 
can." St. Thomas said, " My lord, my heart 
tells me that you will never see me again alive." 
" Do you think I am a traitor ? " " No, my lord," 
was the simple answer. The Saint then went to 
Rouen at the King's request. 

John of Salisbury went before him into 
England, where he landed on the 12th of No- 
vember.'^ Three days before, a mark had been set 
on all the Archbishop's effects, and his officials 
had been excluded from all share in the adminis- 
tration of the property. Also, an edict had been 
published in all the ports, forbidding any of the 
Archbishop's friends to leave England, under 
penalt}' of exile and proscription. John of Salis- 
12 Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 240 ; Froude, p. 256. 


bury was received by both clergy and people of 
Canterbury with great honour, and presided, in 
the Archbishop's name, over a synod which was 
held there on the i8th of November, a few days 
after his arrival. He had a gracious audience of 
the young King ; but he saw too many signs of 
the insincerity of the reconciliation which had 
been made, not to believe the general report that 
the rancour against them, which had been nomin- 
ally softened, was in reality more vigorous than 
ever. The Christmas rents followed those of 
Michaelmas into the King's coffers.'^ 

The pretext which Henry alleged for not meet- 
ing St. Thomas at Rouen was, that the men of 
Auvergne had sent to request succour to repel an 
attack which they expected from the King of 
France. He sent in his stead the notorious John 
of Oxford. When St. Thomas saw him, he said 
that times were indeed changed when the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury was to receive protection 
from him. The Archbishop of Rouen said that 
he had received no instructions from the King to 
accompany him, and that as all was safe enough, 
it was not necessary. He also gave him three 
hundred pounds as a gift. The King urged his 
immediate departure by letter. " Inasmuch as 
many things are told me respecting your lord- 
ship's delay, which perhaps are not true, I think 
it expedient for you to take your departure for 
England with all speed." He had also received 
letters from the Pope, exhorting him to return 
fearlessly to his church, and fulfil his ministry. 
13 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 300. 

374 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

They left Sens on the feast of All Saints, 
with which day the seventh }-ear of their exile 
began. '^^ 

St. Thomas and his fellow-travellers were 
escorted through Flanders by Philip Count of 
Flanders, and at his request the Saint conse- 
crated for him a chapel at Male, a country-seat 
belonging to the Count. '^ Our Saint once more 
received hospitality at the great Abbey of St. 
Bertin at St. Omer, and was conducted thence to 
the fort of the Count of Guisnes by Peter Abbot of 
Ardres. As they passed the x^bbey of Ardres on 
the west and there was not time enough to spare 
for a visit to it, at the Abbot's request St. Thomas 
raised his right hand and blessed it; and that bless- 
ing the chronicler'^ of the abbe}- says, rested upon 
it "with blessings of sweetness." Baldwin, Count 
of Guisnes, who had been knighted b}' him when 
he was Chancellor, received him with every mark 
of honour. The next morning the Saint had 
recourse to the ministry of Gusfrid, the Count's 
chaplain, and made his confession to him in his 
chapel before making his way to the sea. 

They chose the port of Witsand or Wissant, in 
the territory of Boulogne, for their embarkation. 
From this place he forwarded the Pope's letters''' 
of censure to the Bishops by a person named 
Osbern, but that for the Archbishop of York was 
intrusted to a nun named Idonea, doubtless as 

M Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 239. 

15 Martene, Thes. Nov. Anecd. iii. G57 ; Materials, iv. p. 262. 
iG D'Achery, Spicikgium, ii. p. S12 ; Materials, iv. p. 263. 
17 Ep. S. Tho. ii. pp. 48, 82. 


a messenger less likely to be suspected. The 
letter''^ which St. Thomas wrote to her on the 
subject is well worthy of insertion. 

" God hath chosen the weak things of the 
world to confound the mighty. The pride of 
Holofernes, which exalted itself against God, 
when the warriors and priests failed, was ex- 
tinguished by the valour of a woman : when 
Apostles fled and denied their Lord, women 
attended Him in His sufferings, followed Him 
after His death, and received the first-fruits of 
the Resurrection. You, my daughter, are ani- 
mated with their zeal ; God grant that you ma}- 
pass into their society. The spirit of love hath 
cast out fear from your heart, and will bring it to 
pass that the things which the necessity of the 
Church demands of you, arduous though they be, 
shall appear not only possible but easy. 

" Having this hope, therefore, of your zeal in 
the Lord, I command you, and for the remission 
of your sins enjoin on you, that you deliver the 
letters which I send you from his Holiness the 
Pope to our venerable brother Roger Archbishop 
of York, in the presence, if possible, of our 
brethren and fellow Bishops ; and if not, in the 
face of all who happen to be present. Moreover, 
lest by any collusion the original instrument 
should be suppressed, deliver a transcript of it 
to be read by the by-standers ; and open to 
them its intention, as the messenger will instruct 

" My daughter, a great prize is offered for your 
i8 Ep. S. Tho. i. p. 399; Froude, p. 53. 

^^y^ ST, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

toil ; remission of sins, a fruit that perisheth not, 
— the crown of j:;lory, which, in spite of all the 
sins of their past lives, the blessed sinners of 
Magdala and Egypt have received from Christ 
their Lord. The Lady of Mercies will attend on 
you, and will entreat her Son, Whom she bore 
for the sins of the world, God and Man, to be the 
guide, guard, and companion of your steps. He, 
Who burst the bonds of death, and curbed the 
violence of devils, is not unable to restrain the 
impious hand that will be raised against you. 
Farewell, bride of Christ, and ever think on His 
presence with you." 

The Bishops were found by the messengers at 
Canterbury, preparing to cross the sea ; and they 
submitted to the sentences which were thus pro- 
nounced against them, the Archbishop of York 
of suspension, and the Bishops of London and 
Salisbury of excommunication. To his very great 
satisfaction, the news of their having received 
the letters was brought to St. Thomas while he 
was waiting at Wissant for a fair wind. 

One day they walked down to the beach to see 
the ships in which they were to cross, when a 
vessel arrived from England. They asked the 
sailors what was there said about the Arch- 
bishop's return ? They were told, that every one 
was much pleased. But Herbert was taken aside 
by one of them, whom he thought was the cap- 
tain, who said : " Wretched people, what are 3'ou 
doing ? Where are you going ? Certainly to 
your death ; so say all who know any thing about 
it, and everybody expects it : and, besides, there 


are soldiers in the very port where you are going 
to land, waiting to take the Archbishop, and 
those who are with him." Herbert told St. 
Thomas what he had heard ; and the Saint took 
counsel of his companions. Gunter of "W'inton, 
a good and simple soul, who had been very faith- 
ful to the Archbishop, recommended that they 
should wait until the storm caused by the suspen- 
sions passed over, saying, " If the country is 
moved by it now, what will it be when the King 
has heard of it ? " Herbert's opinion was, that it 
was impossible to go back again into Flanders ; 
and he said, that a death in such a cause would 
be a glorious martyrdom. St. Thomas briefly 
answered him, " Your speech seems faithful ; but 
it is hard, and who shall fulfil it ? " He then said, 
" Truly, Gunter, I see the land ; and, by God's 
help I will enter the land, though I know for 
certain that my death awaits me." To a similar 
warning, given him by Milo Dean of Boulogne, in 
the name of his lord the Count of Boulogne, he 
replied, " Did you tell me I were to be torn limb 
from limb, I would not regard it ; for I am 
resolved that nothing shall hinder my return. 
Seven years are long enough for a pastor to have 
been absent from the Lord's sorrowing flock. I 
will only ask my friends (and a last request slwuld 
be attended to), that if I cannot return to my 
church alive, they will carry me into it dead." 
He added that he hoped that the library which 
he had thought of leaving on the Continent, but 
which the uncertainty of public affairs had made 
him resolve to take with him, would make his 

378 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

monks willing to give him a burial-place in 

On another occasion, when one of his clerics 
asked him what they were waiting for, and why 
they did not embark, he said, " Forty days will 
not pass after your entrance into the country, 
that you will not wish you were any where in the 
world rather than in England." 

Robert, the keeper of the treasures of the 
Cathedral of Canterbur}-, was sent over by 
St. Thomas the day before he sailed, that he 
might make some preparation for the reception of 
the exiles. On his landing at Dover he was 
seized and made to take oath that he would 
return as soon as the wind permitted. Nothing 
was alleged against him except that he had no 
passport from the King. 

On Tuesday the ist of December, very early 
in the morning, the Saint embarked. Knowing 
that Dover was beset with soldiers, he ordered 
the vessel to be steered for Sandwich, a fief of 
his own, and the very port from which he had 
sailed on All Souls' Day, 1164. His ship could 
be distinguished from the others by the archiepis- 
copal cross, which was erected as he approached 
the shore. The poor people'^ caught sight of it, 

19 Among them was a youth called George, who afterwards in 
a storm invoked the martyr thus : "Save thy servants, O martyr 
Thomas, who of old were subjects of yours and were ready to 
defend you when you came back and made us happy. The 
officers were preparing their arms, but your devoted people were 
on the watch for you. We did what we could and what we were 
bound to do, and we make no boast of it, but now that we have 
fallen into trouble for our sins, help us " (Will. Cant. p. 325). 


and collected in great numbers : some ran into 
the water to receive him ; others knelt for his 
blessing ; many wept ; and some cried out, 
" Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the 
Lord, the father of the orphans, and the judge of 
the widows." 

The retainers of the three Bishops, under the 
command of Randulf de Broc, Reginald de 
Warrenne, and Gervase of Cornhill, the sheriff of 
Kent, who had been awaiting his arrival at Dover, 
soon heard of his landing; and hastening to 
Sandwich, with scarce a salutation to the Arch- 
bishop, began to demand why, on his very first 
entrance, he had begun by suspending and ex- 
communicating the King's Bishops. The Saint 
answered quietly, that the King would not be 
offended by it ; for he had received his permission 
to punish the injury to his Church, which those 
Bishops had committed. On hearing that the 
King had known of what he had done, they 
became a little more moderate ; but they de- 
manded the absolution of the Bishops. St. 
Thomas postponed the matter till he reached 
Canterbury; and John of Oxford protesting in 
the King's name against all violence, the soldiers, 
who had their armour on under their capes and 
tunics, retired. However, before they left, Regi- 
nald demanded that, if there were any foreigner 
among them, he should take the oath of allegi- 
ance to the King, which was exacted in the case 
of those who were suspected to be spies. It hap- 
pened that Simon, the Archdeacon of Sens, was 
in the Archbishop's company; but as the oath 

380 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 29 

made no mention of the Pope, and was not 
usually imposed upon the clergy, the Saint would 
not suffer it ; and the sensation caused by his 
arrival prevented them from enforcing it. 

The six miles which he had to go from Sand- 
wich to Canterbury were passed over in a sort of 
triumphal procession, owing to the vast crowds, 
especially of the poor, who thronged the roads to 
welcome him. Some threw their garments in 
the way, crying, " Blessed is he who cometh in 
the name of the Lord." The parish priests led 
out their parishioners in procession to meet him, 
with the Cross preceding them ; and they knelt 
for his blessing, while the air resounded with the 
same joyful cry. Though the distance was short, 
the concourse was so great, that they were late 
in reaching Canterbury. 



1 170. 

Joy in Canterbury at the Saint's return — the three Bishops 
demand absolution in vain, and then cross the sea — Prior 
Richard sent to the young King at Winchester — St. Thomas 
goes to Rochester and Southwark — a servant sent to the 
Earl of Cornwall, who returns with a warning — St. Thomas 
meets the Abbot of St. Alban's at Harrow — outrages of 
Randulf de Broc — return to Canterbury — William the poor 
priest of Chidingstone — Confirmations by the way — the Saint 
enters Canterbury — holds an ordination — Prior Odo — inter- 
view between the three Bishops and the King — his anger — 
four knights leave Normandy for Saltwood Castle — St. 
Thomas at Canterbury on Christmas Day — his last letter to 
the Pope — the knights come to Canterbury. 

The Saint entered into his cathedral city amidst 
every sign of rejoicing. The bells were ringing 
merry peals ; the cathedral was decked out ; the 
inhabitants, from the highest to the lowest, 
dressed themselves in their silks and gayest 
clothing ; a public entertainment was prepared 
for great numbers ; a numerous procession, with 
his own conventual chapter, attended him into 
the town ; the churches resounded with the sound 
of the organs, chants, and hymns, and the halls 
with trumpets ; and the whole place was over- 
flowing with jo}-. He entered the city by the 
gate that led to the cemetery belonging to the 

382 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

Cathedral, passing barefoot through the streets 
straightway into the church ; and people remarked 
that his face shone as he did so with an outward 
splendour, as his heart was on fire with a holy 
gladness. He went to his episcopal throne, and 
there received the religious to the kiss of peace. 
This he was able to do, though there were many 
among the monks of Christchurch who during 
his absence had incurred censure by communi- 
cating with Gilbert Foliot and other excommuni- 
cated persons, for he had sent about a month 
before his return faculties by John of Salisbury to 
Brother Thomas of Maidstone to absolve and 
reconcile them all. The past was therefore for- 
gotten in this happy moment. Men were crying 
with joy all around ; and Herbert went up to 
him, and said, " My lord, we do not now mind 
when you may have to leave the world ; for this 
day the Church, the spouse of Christ, has con- 
quered in you." He made no answer, but simply 
looked at Herbert. In the chapter-house, he 
preached a beautiful sermon on the text, " We 
have here no abiding city, but seek one to 
come; " he then entered his palace, after a day of 
great solemnitj'. 

The next morning, the King's officials came, 
accompanied by the chaplains of the three 
Bishops, to ask for absolution from the censures. 
" He had not come," they said, " in peace, but 
with fire and sword ; treading his fellow-Bishops 
under foot, and treating them as his footstool, 
uncited, unheard, unjudged." They said too, 
" that his suffragans had gone to the sea, that 

II70] THE RETURN. 383 

they might receive him in the procession with the 
Church of Canterbury ; but that they had unex- 
pectedly and undeservedly found themselves 
dressed in certain black garments, of which, if 
his lordship pleased, the}- must be ridded before 
they could present themselves." He answered 
that " the peace of sinners was no peace ; for 
there was no true peace except to men of good- 
will. Jerusalem, abounding in luxury and self- 
indulgence, said to herself, ' It is peace ; ' but the 
Lord in His pity wept over it, because the ven- 
geance of God hung over it and was hidden from 
its eyes." With regard to their objections against 
the sentence, they must remember that it was 
passed by the Pope, and that it was not for 
them to call the acts of his Holiness in question. 
"I understand the meaning of this application: 
if I have not the power of absolving them, they 
will consider me a Legate with curtailed powers ; 
if I have the power, they will try by secular 
violence to extort absolution from me. I am 
setting no snares for them."' As, however, they 
were very urgent for the absolution, the Saint 
finally promised that, after ascertaining the King's 
wishes, and consulting the Bishop of Winton 
and others of his brethren, he would consent for 
the sake of peace to accept their oath to obey 
the judgment of the Pope, and would take on 
himself the responsibility of doing what he could, 
subject, of course, to his Holiness's approbation ; 
and that he would receive them as brothers, with 
Christian love. 

The Bishops objected to this proposal, as un- 

384 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

constitutional, and derogating from the dignity of 
the crown ; but on its being represented to them 
that the Pope himself had required a similar 
oath from them on their former absolution, the 
Bishops of London and Salisbury were prepared 
to give way ; but the Archbishop of York per- 
suaded them to throw themselves on the King's 
patronage, and excite the jealousy of the young 
King, as though it were the Saint's object to 
effect his deposition. The Archdeacons of Can- 
terbury and Poitiers were on the point of crossing; 
but the former was now left behind to repair to 
the new King, and, as far as possible, poison his 
mind against his former guardian. The Bishops 
crossed the Channel ; and, at their suggestion, 
six of the dignified clergy from each vacant see 
in the province were summoned to attend the 
King on the Continent, and go through the forms 
of an election before him, which it is unnecessary 
to say, would be invalid and uncanonical. This 
scheme, of which St. Thomas had been informed 
by his messengers in England while he was yet 
abroad, was frustrated by his martyrdom. 

When the Archbishop had been eight days at 
Canterbury, he sent Richard, the Prior of St. 
Martin's at Dover, who was his immediate suc- 
cessor in the archbishopric, to the young King 
at Winchester, to say that he was about to come 
to pay his homage to him as his new Sovereign. 
He was thus prompt because he was anxious 
immediately after this visit to begin his visitation 
of the diocese, from, which he had been so long 
separated. He took with him three magnificent 

II70] THE RETURN. 385 

high-stepping chargers, richly caparisoned, as a 
present for his young lord. 

Prior Richard was met on his arrival at Win- 
chester by the young King's guardians, William 
St. John, William Fitz-Adeline, Hugh de Gondre- 
ville and Randulf Fitzstephen, who made diffi- 
culties about admitting him into the young King's 
presence. When assured that the message that 
he bore was one of peace, they allowed him 
access to the young King. The message of 
which he was the bearer from the Archbishop 
was, that through the merits of the saints of 
Canterbury and the prayers of the faithful, God 
in His merc}^ had reconciled him to the King ; 
that he had therefore returned to England, which 
reconciliation and return he wished the young 
King to learn from himself; that he knew that 
enemies of his were misrepresenting him to the 
young King, and that he called God to witness 
that he held him to be his lord and king ; but 
that as it had not been by his, the Archbishop's, 
hand that the coronation had been performed, 
he begged for a conference with him on this 
subject. The young King's answer was discour- 
teous to St. Thomas, though civil in form to 
Prior Richard, saying to him that he owed him 
no favour for his present errand but that his 
thanks were due to the Prior for hospitality 
shown by him of old to his mother Queen Eleanor 
and for marrying his sister the Princess Matilda 
to Duke Henry of Saxony. Prior Richard was 
told to leave, for the young King would answer 
the Archbishop by his own messengers. 

386 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

St. Thomas began his visitation by going to 
London, hoping there to receive an invitation to 
meet the 5^oung King. On the way the Bishop 
of Rochester, his old friend Walter, Archbishop 
Theobald's brother, met him in procession with 
his chapter and clergy. As he entered London, 
he was conducted by another procession to St. 
Mary's, Southwark, a church of canons regular. 
The multitude of people of every class who came 
out to meet him was incalculable. The poor 
scholars and clerics of the city went out for 
about three miles ; and when he came in sight, 
their Tc Deum rent the air. The Saint, who 
.scattered his alms freely on the way, was lodged 
in the palace of the Bishop of Winchester by 
the riverside in Southwark. The canons received 
him at the door of St. Mary's ; and intoning the 
Bcnedictus Dominus Dens Israel, the vast multitude 
took up the chant and continued the canticle. 
A crazy woman named Matilda, amidst the ge- 
neral joy, called out repeatedly, " Archbishop, 
beware of the knife." 

The next day, the young King's promised 
messengers came, Jocelin of Louvain, younger 
brother of Adeliza, the Queen of Henry L, with 
a knight called Thomas of Turnebuhe, but they 
were the bearers of an order to him to return 
at once to Canterbury. The Archbishop asked 
if it was the King's intention to exclude him 
from his presence and confidence. " His com- 
mands were what I told you," Jocelin replied, 
and left him haughtily. As he was passing out, 
he met a rich citizen of London whom he knew. 

iiyo] THE RETURN. 387 

to whom he said, " And are you come to the 
King's enemy ? I advise you to go home 
quickly." He made answer, " We do not know 
whether you reckon him the King's enemy ; but 
we have heard and seen the letters of the King, 
who is over the water, respecting the reconcilia- 
tion ; ' if there is anything more behind, we know 
nothing about it." 

Reginald of Dunstanville, Earl of Cornwall, 
whose conduct to St. Thomas at Northampton 
had not been unfriendly, now advised the young 
King to give him the audience he asked for. 
This may have come to the Saint's knowledge, 
or else he trusted to the Earl's comparative friend- 
liness, and he resolved to send a confidential ser- 
vant to stay with the Earl, in the hope that thus 
he might have speedy information of what was 
said or done in the 3'oung King's Court. The Earl 
was at Breamore, near Fordingbridge, suffering 
from a fistula, and nothing could more strongly 
show the hostility of the Court than the fact that 
St. Thomas's messenger could get access to the 
Earl or hope to remain in his household only by 
pretending to be a physician come to cure him. 
However he was soon recognized. The very 
next day the young King came to see his uncle, ^ 
bringing him some game. The King's servant 
who brought the game, standing watching the 
serving and the guests, said, " Is not that William 

1 That to the Bishop of Exeter is given in Ep. Jo. Sar. ii 
p. 266. 

2 Reginald was a natural son of Henry I., created Earl of 
Cornwall 1140, ob. 1175. 

388 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

I see there, from the household of Archbishop 
Thomas ? " On this the Earl said to his phy- 
sician, " Return in all haste to the Archbishop, 
and tell him from me that he must look to him- 
self. Nothing is safe. And let John of Salisbury 
know, and John of Canterbury, and Gunter, and 
Alexander the Welshman, that wherever they 
are, they will be killed by the sword." The 
messenger started that night, and making all 
haste, delivered the Earl's warning to his master 
at Canterbury, in the presence of John of Salis- 
bury only, in all probability on Sunday, the feast 
of St. John. The Archbishop then made use of 
a gesture and a phrase that he repeated later, 
" Here, here," said he, striking himself a light 
blow on the neck, " the varlets (garcioncs) will 
find me." 

About the feast ^ of St. Lucy, December 13, 
the Saint was at Harrow, his own manor, which 
Nigel de Sackville had usurped. He sent from 
thence to his friend Simon the Abbot of Alban's, 
closing his letter with the words, "that he never 
had needed consolation so much as then." The 
Abbot came to him, and was most affectionately 
received. After they had talked over all that 
the Saint had undergone abroad, the Abbot said, 
" By God's grace, it is all now happily ended." 
St. Thomas sighed ; and taking the Abbot's hand 
under his cappa, and pressing it, he said, " M}' 
friend, my friend, I will tell you my case as to 
another self: things are very different with me 

3 Matthew Paris (a monk of St. Alban's) inter vitas xxiii. 
S. Albani Abbatum, de Abbate Simone, ed. Wats, p. 60. 

iiyo] THE RETURN. 389 

to what men think. New persecutions are be- 
ginning. The King and his son (who is my only 
hope) are devising fresh injuries," The Abbot 
said, "How can this be, holy Father?" With a 
deep sigh, and looking up, the Saint answered, 
*' Well enough, well enough I know to what 
matters are tending." When they parted, St. 
Thomas bade the Abbot pray for him to his 
holy martyr-patron, and promised to remember 
him in his prayers. " I will go," he added, " and 
celebrate such a feast in my church as the Lord 
shall provide me." 

A messenger came from Canterbury, to say 
that Randulf de Broc had laid hands on a 
ship of his, laden with wine, and had cut the 
cables, carried off the anchors, killed some of 
the sailors, and imprisoned the others in Peven- 
sey Castle. The Saint immediately sent the 
Abbot of St. Alban's and the Prior of Dover to 
complain of this outrage to the young King; 
and, at his command, the ship was ordered to 
be restored. 

The Archbishop was accompanied by five 
mounted soldiers as an escort, on account of 
the unsafe state of the roads. It was reported 
to King Henry, that he was marching about 
England with a great army, besieging the towns, 
and intending to drive the young King out of 
the country. 

At Wrotham, on the first evening of his return 
towards Canterbury, a poor priest named William, 
who said Mass at Chidingstone, came to him, and 
in a private audience, which he had requested, 

390 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

said, " My lord, I bring you some relics of St. 
Laurence, St. Vincent, and St. Cecilia, as St. 
Laurence told me to do in a vision." 

5^. Thomas. " Brother, how do you know that 
they are the relics of those saints ? " 

William. " My lord, in my vision I asked St. 
Laurence for some sign, for I said that other- 
wise you would not believe me ; and St. Laurence 
told me that you lately put your hand to your 
breast, and found the hair-shirt torn which you 
wear next your skin ; and while you were de- 
liberating whether you should have that one 
repaired or a new one made, you soon put 3'our 
hand in again, and found it whole." 

Si. Thomas. " In virtue of obedience, I com- 
mand you to tell nobody, as long as I live." 

William. " So be it ; " and he added, " I am a 
poor man, and I serve in another man's church ; 
think of me." 

St. Thomas. " Come to me four days after 
Christmas, and I will provide for you." He 
then went away. 

Randulf de Broc and Gervase of Cornhill, 
who had privately had the names reported to 
them of some of those who had gone in pro- 
cession to meet the Archbishop, summoned the 
priors and more distinguished citizens. They 
pretended that the King commanded that they 
should give bail to appear when called upon, to 
answer for having gone out to meet a traitor. 
The priors and ecclesiastics would not attend ; 
but many citizens did. They replied, that they 
had not seen any letters from the King, nor 

1170J THE RETURN. 3gi 

even from the justices ; and that they were the 
King's hege men, and responsible to him alone, 
and not to them. 

The De Broc family, in order to provoke him,^ 
hunted-* in a chase of his without permission, 
and killed a stag ; they also carried off several 
of his dogs and kept them. One day before 
Christmas, Robert de Broc, who had been a 
cleric, and then a white monk, and had aposta- 
tized and returned to the world, waylaid a train 
of the Archbishop's pack-horses, and set a nephew 
of his, John de Broc, to cut off the tail of one of 
them, on the King's highway. The poor muti- 
lated beast was brought for the Archbishop to 

All along the road which he had travelled, 
miracles were wrought after his martyrdom,, 
more particularly in the places where he had 
stopped to give Confirmation to children, to 
mark which spots crosses were erected. The 
most famous was at Newington, a manor belong- 
ing to Richard de Luci, and Benedict ^ remarks 
that for the Saint to work wonders on his pro- 
perty, was to heap coals of fire on the head of 
an ancient adversary. 

As soon as he arrived at Canterbury he dis- 
missed his five soldiers. His last journey was 
over and he was once more in his Church on 
his birthday, the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, 

4 This was forbidden by King Henry in an instrument which . 
St. Thomas witnessed when Chancellor (Rymer's Foedera, i. 
p. 40). 

5 Benedict, p. 164. 

392 ST. THOMAS OF CAMTERBURY. [chap. 30 

when he began his fifty-third year. The feast 
of his patron saint fell on a Monday. He had 
reached Canterbury in time to hold an ordination 
in his Cathedral on the previous Saturday in 
Ember week, December ig. Many were ordained 
from other monasteries and churches of the pro- 
vince, but of Christ Church monks he only or- 
dained five, one subdeacon, one deacon, and 
three priests. The deacon was William of Can- 
terbury, who records the fact. The ordination 
of some other monks of Christ Church the Saint 
postponed, as they had been irregularly received 
in his absence, and he caused them to be excluded 
from the Chapter, but just before Christmas he 
allowed them to renew their petition for admis- 
sion, and he granted it, sobbing as he uttered an 
admonition to them to remember the indulgence 
that he had shown them. 

Amongst those intruded during his absence 
was Odo,^the prior of the monaster}-. St. Thomas 
therefore regarded the office of prior as vacant, 
and he had summoned the Abbot of Boxle)- and 
the Prior of Dover to advise him in the choice 

6 Prior Wibert died September 27, 1167, and John of Salisbury 
•wrote a strong remonstrance to the Convent for applying to the 
King on the occurrence of the vacancy (Materials, vi. p. 301). 
The Pope in a letter dated May 16, 116S, ordered the Convent to 
receive a Prior of the Archbishop's appointing only {Ibid. p. 41S). 
St. Thomas did not recognize the intruder, but when he wrote 
in the following year, he addressed his letter "Wilhelmo Sup- 
priori et Odoni et cceteris fratribus " (Ibid. p. 5S9). We learn 
from William of Canterbury (p. 542) that some of the monks 
were troubled at Odo's continuing in office. On the other hand, 
others wanted him to be St. Thomas's successor as Archbishop 
(Materials, iv. p. 177). 

1170] THE RETURN. 393 

of one of his monks to fill the post, but the 
appointment was prevented by his death, and 
Odo continued to hold the place of prior, till in 
1175 he was made Abbot of Battle. 

The three Bishops who had crossed the sea 
found the King at his palace, called Bur, near 
Bayeux. When counsel was asked of them, 
Roger of York said, "Ask your barons and sol- 
diers ; it is not for us to say what ought to be 
done." At last some one said, " My lord, as 
long as Thomas lives, you will not have good 
days, nor peaceful kingdom, nor quiet times." 
The Bishops complaining that it was a shame 
to the King and his realm, that they should be 
so suspended from their offices that they were 
hardly allowed to bless their food, and declaring 
that if the King did not put a stop to the Arch- 
bishop's presumption, it would grow much worse, 
Henry fell into one of his terrible fits of rage, so 
that he was scarcely conscious of what he said. 
He repeated again and again, " What slothful 
wretches I have brought up in my kingdom, 
who have no more loyalty to their King than 
to suffer him to be so disgracefully mocked by 
this low-born cleric ! " So saying he left the 

Four knights immediately departed together. 
Their names were, Reginald Fitz-Urse, William 
de Tracy, Hugh de Moreville, and Richard Brito, 
or Le Breton. After swearing to carry out the 
end of their conspiracy, they separated in the 
night of Christmas eve ; and it was remarked, 
that though they left different ports of France, 

394 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

and entered England at different places, they 
arrived at the same hour at Saltwood Castle. 
The King, after their departure, summoned the 
barons into his chamber, to complain that the 
Archbishop had entered his country like an in- 
vader ; that he had suspended the Archbishop 
of York and the Bishops, and excommunicated 
others, for their services to himself; that he had 
disturbed the whole kingdom, and intended to 
deprive him and his son of their crowns ; and 
that he had obtained from the Pope a privilege 
giving him and the Bishops the disposal of bene- 
fices, without regarding the advowsons of the 
earls or barons, or even of the King. The Earl 
of Leicester was the first to speak: "My lord, 
the Archbishop and the Earl, my father, were 
intimate friends ; but be assured that, from the 
time he took himself out of your kingdom and 
favour, he has not seen a messenger from me, 
nor I from him." Engelger de Bohun, the 
uncle of the Bishop of Salisbury, and himself 
excommunicate, said, " I do not know what you 
can do with such a man, except you bind him 
with a wicker rope, and hang him on a cross." 
William Malvoisin, nephew of Eudes Count of 
Brittany, was the third speaker: "Some time 
ago," he said, " I was at Rome, on my return 
from Jerusalem. On questioning my host con- 
cerning the Popes, I learnt that a Pope had 
once been killed for his intolerable haughtiness 
and insolence." 

As soon as this debate was ended, the King 
sent William de Mandeville Earl of Essex, Seyer 

II70] THE RETURN. 395 

de Ouincy, and Richard de Humet, in search of 
the four who had left. The report was, that they 
were to seize the Archbishop, Earl William and 
Seyer went as far as the coast, but did not 
cross. Richard went to another port and crossed. 
The young King was at Winton. Richard sent 
to Hugh de Gondreville and William St. John, 
his guardians, to come without his knowledge to 
Canterbury, with the troops of the royal house- 
hold. He himself lay in wait on the coast, that 
the Archbishop might be taken, if he attempted 
to fly ; and the Earl of Essex and Seyer did the 
same on the other side of the Channel. 

The four knights reached Saltwood on Monday 
the 28th. We must therefore now return to 
St. Thomas, whom we have accompanied to 
Canterbury. On Christmas night he sang the 
Gospel of the Nativity after Matins, according 
to the rite still in use in the Benedictine Order ; 
and he celebrated the midnight Mass himself. 
He also sang the High Mass on the festival, and 
before it he preached a beautiful sermon on the 
text which so much occupied his thoughts : " On 
earth peace to men of good will." When he 
came to speak of the holy Fathers of the Church 
of Canterbury, the confessors who were there, 
he said that they had one Archbishop who was 
a martyr, St. Elphege ; and that " it was possible 
that they might soon have another." The tears 
burst from his eyes, and his sobs interrupted 
his words. All in the church were deeply moved ; 
sobs and groans of sorrow were heard, and 
amongst them a low murmur, " Father, why do 

396 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

you desert us so soon ? To whom do you leave 
us desolate ? " Checking his tears, the Saint in 
a loud clear voice excommunicated Robert de 
Broc, whom he had summoned by a messenger 
to do penance ; but the contumacious sinner had 
sent for answer, by a soldier named David of 
Rumnel [Romney], that if he were excommuni- 
cate, he would act as such. He involved in the 
same sentence the usurpers of his two churches, 
Harrow and Thierlewde or Throwley. 

Christmas Day in that year fell upon Friday ; 
and St. Thomas, proceeding from the church to 
the refectory, thought it more religious to eat 
meat than to abstain, in honour of the joy of 
Christmas, for which alone the Church suspends 
the precept of abstinence. On both the following 
feasts of St. Stephen and St. John the Saint sang 
Mass. On the former day he sent off three of 
his attendants, Herbert of Bosham, Alexander 
"the Welshman," as they called him, his cross- 
bearer, and Gilbert de Glanville, who had not 
been very long in his service. Herbert was sent 
to the King of France, the Archbishop of Sens, 
and others of the Saint's friends. He left at 
night through fear of treachery, with many tears ; 
his own conviction being confirmed by the Saint's 
words, that he, who had borne so much with his 
master, would never see that master's face again 
upon earth. The others were the bearers of a 
letter'' to the Pope, the last its writer ever sent 
to the Holy See, of which he had been the un- 
flinching champion. In it he told the Pope of 
7 Fp. S. Tho. i. p. Si ; Froude, p. 539. 

iiyo] THE RETURN. 397 

all that had lately taken place ; and he added, 
that a plan was in progress, of which he had 
had some notice from his messengers before he 
returned to England ; that six dignitaries of 
each vacant Church had been summoned before 
the King to go through the form of election of 
their Bishops, whom he would be obliged to 
refuse to consecrate ; and thus a pretext would 
evidentl}- be furnished for rekindling animosities. 
The concluding words of the letter were, " May 
your Holiness fare well for ever, dearest Father!"' 
Two other messengers also left him, Richard his 
chaplain, and John Planeta, who had been with 
him at Northampton, with instructions to the 
Bishop of Norwich to absolve the priests on the 
domains of Earl Hugh Bigod,^ who had incurred 
the lesser excommunication by their intercourse 
with excommunicated persons. They were to 
take oath to send, within a year, two of their 
number to the Pope, in their name, to accept 
their penance from his Holiness. 

The Saint did not forget the poor priest 
William, who had come to him at Wrotham. 
He sent William Beivin, who knew him, in search 
of him, to see whether he had arrived at Canter- 
bury. As he was not found, the Saint gave to 
William Beivin, to be given to the priest, a deed, 
conferring upon him the chapel of Penshurst, to 
which he had added an excommunication against 
any one who should dare to hinder its fulfilment. 
In virtue of this deed, the priest received the 

8 Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, was excommunicated by the 
Pope himself for usurping the property of the Canons of Pentney. 
See Note G. 

398 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

benefice after the martyrdom ; the young King 
saying, when he heard of the miracle, that he 
would not incur the Saint's excommunication. 

On this Sunday, St. John's day, St. Thomas 
received a letter from a friend of his among the 
courtiers, bidding him beware of his coming fate. 
This was probably the outspoken warning of 
Reginald Earl of Cornwall, already mentioned. 
He hid the letter within his hair-shirt, where it 
was found after his death. 

On the Monday a monk of Westminster, who 
was at Canterbury on business, asked St. Thomas 
whether he remembered a message St. Godric,^ 
the hermit of Finchale, had sent him years 
before. " Right well do I remember it," he said, 
" but he has passed from this world to our Lord, 
and it is some time since we sung our funeral 
Mass for him. I know that he did not need our 
help, for he is happily reigning with Christ in 
Heaven. The message that he sent me by you, 
came to pass as he said, for I went into exile only 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and now I have 
returned Legate of all England." 

Another message from St. Godric foretold his 
martyrdom to St. Thomas. "Tell him not to be 
troubled," said St. Godric while St. Thomas was 
still in exile, " if for a little while he will have 
much to suffer; but the longer the trial is, the 
fuller will be the crown, and the light burden of 
this tribulation will bring forth an increase of 
everlasting beatitude. For within six months 
peace by word of mouth will be made between 

9 See Note H. 

II70] THE RETURN. 399 

him and the King, but Godric will not then be 
living here : and within nine months his honours 
and possessions will be restored to him, and he 
will return to his see in Kent, where not long 
after, an end shall come to him altogether and of 
all things — an end that shall be for his saving 
good, his joy and perfection ; and to many men a 
remedy of salvation, a help and consolation." '° 

The soldiers of the castles round Canterbury, 
Dover, Rochester, Saltwood, and Bletchingley, 
were on the alert, and the castles put into a 
state of defence ; perhaps to prevent any ven- 
geance being taken by the people for what vv-as 
now about to happen. It was on the 28th of 
December that the four conspirators reached 
Saltwood, where they would learn from their 
host that Robert de Broc, the apostate monk, 
had been solemnly excommunicated on Christmas 
Day. They spent the long winter night in con- 
certing their scheme ; and early in the morning 
of the next most memorable day, which after 
ages were to know as the Feast of the Holy 
Martyr St. Thomas, they set out with the De 
Brocs for Canterbury. They went to St. Augus- 
tine's Abbey, outside the walls, the intruded 
abbot of which, Clarembald," who had been a 

10 Libellus de vita ct miracuUs S. Godrici, auctore Reginaldo 
monacho Dunelmensi. Surtees Society, 1845, pp. 236, 297. 

11 The Papal commission of inquiry into the character of the 
abbot-elect of St. Augustine's informed the Pope that they had 
absolved some of Clarembald's attendants, who, through tlie 
fear of the Abbot and the King, had communicated with the 
murderers of St. Thomas on their return from their crime 
(Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 272). 

400 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 30 

constant enemy of the Saint's ever since his re- 
fusal to bless him in his abbacy, received them. 
They remained there all the morning. They 
had sent, at an early hour, to collect as many 
soldiers as they could from the castles and the 
neighbourhood. With about a dozen men-at- 
arms, they rode from St. Augustine's to the Arch- 
bishop's palace ; others being dispersed about the 
town, with orders, in the name of the King, to 
summon all the soldiers they might find, and to 
command all other persons not to stir from their 
houses nor to move, happen what might. Their 
place of rendezvous was the house of one Gilbert, 
not far from the gate of the palace, where they 
ultimately assembled. 

A soldier, who was sworn to the conspiracy, 
told Richard, one of the cellarers or bursars of 
the monastery, that the Saint would not see 
Tuesday night. Richard repeated what he had 
heard to St. Thomas, who smiled and said, 
"They are threats." Reginald, a citizen of 
Canterbury, also told him that the murderers 
had landed and were making their preparations. 
The Saint shed tears, and said, " They will find 
me ready to die ; let them do what they like. 
I know, my son, and am certain that I shall die 
a violent death ; but they will not kill me outside 
my church." 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon 
when the four conspirators, with their small troop 
of soldiers, reached the palace. Before another 
hour and a half had elapsed, the soul of St. 
Thomas of Canterbury was safe in Heaven. 



1 1 70. 

The last morning — Matins — the thought of flight — Mass — spiri- 
tual conference and confession — dinner — the coming of the 
four knights— the interview — the knights call to arms— John 
of Salisbury's remonstrance — the panic of the monks — the 
Saint enters the church — the knights follow through the 
cloister — the Saint's last words — the martyrdom. 

The Saint had spent his last morning well. His 
Matins^ he had recited at midnight in his room, 
with several of his clerics and of the monks ; and 
when the Divine Office was over, he opened a 
window, and stood for a long time silently looking 
out into the night. At length he suddenly turned 
to his companions, and asked what o'clock it was, 
and whether it would be possible to reach Sand- 
wich before daybreak. They replied, that it was 
yet very early, and that there was time to go a 
great deal further than that, which was but seven 
miles. On this they heard him say to himself, 
" God's will be done in me : Thomas will wait 
for whatever God has in store for him, in the 
church over which he presides." 

He had assisted at Mass in the Cathedral ; he 
visited all the altars, which was a customary 
devotion of his, and the shrines of the saints ; 
I Girald. Cambr. Attgl. Sacr. Lond. 1691, ii. pp. 423, 424. 

402 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

and he remained several hours in the chapter- 
house, in close spiritual conference with two of 
the monks, who were remarkable for their piet}'. 
He went to confession to one of the religious 
whom he was accustomed to call " a man after 
his own heart," Dom Thomas of Maidstone,- 
and his great contrition, and his obedience in the 
fulfilment of his penance, were deemed worthy of 
record. Three times on that day he received the 
discipline : his foreknowledge of his mart3-rdom 
probably leading him to anticipate the amount of 
mortification of this severe kind which he was 
accustomed to inflict upon himself every day. He 
dined at three o'clock in the afternoon ; and 
doubtless there was that day a double tenderness 
in his large clear eye as it roamed over the hall to 
see what was needed, whether by his clerics on 
one side of him, or his monks on the other. 
Amongst these were John of Salisbury, and 
William Fitzstephen ; and probably with them 
the visitor Edward Grim, a cleric of Cambridge. 
With the monks were Benedict, afterwards Abbot 
of Peterborough, and Gervase the historian. 
Doubtless his former confessor and early in- 
structor, Robert, the Prior of Merton, had an 
honourable place. His dinner consisted of a 
pheasant : and one of the monks said to him, 
" Thank God, I see you dine more heartily and 
cheerfully to-day than usual." His answer was, 
" A man must be cheerful who is going to his 

When dinner was over, and the grace chanted, 

2 Will. Cant. pp. 102, 509, 510. 


the Saint retired to his private room to hold his 
usual conference with his friends ; for evidently 
he had resumed all the routine of his life, as he 
used to practise it at Canterbury, before his exile. 
He sat upon the bed, and his clerics and some of 
the monks were on either side of him. The 
crowd of persons, principally the poor, who had 
as usual dined with him, were still waiting about 
in the courtyard. Those who had served at the 
Archbishop's dinner were themselves dining, when 
the four knights, followed by one attendant, Ran- 
dulf, an archer, entered by the open and hospit- 
able doors. William Fitznigel, the Archbishop's 
seneschal, who was about to leave his service, and 
in the end acted a very unfaithful part, met and 
recognized them, and showed them the way to 
the room in which the Archbishop was. As they 
passed through the hall, the servers invited them 
to dine ; but they declined. Fitznigel, entering 
the Archbishop's room, told him that four of the 
King's household knights were without, wishing 
to speak with him. " Let them come in," was 
the answer of the Saint, who continued his con- 
versation with the monk he was talking to, with- 
out looking towards them. As they entered, those 
who were nearest to the door saluted them as 
usual ; and they returned the salutation in a low 
tone of voice. They went close up to the Arch- 
bishop, and seated themselves on the floor at his 
feet, without offering him any salutation, either in 
their own or the King's name. Randulf, the 
archer, sat on the floor behind them. 

After a pause, which drew the attention of all, 

404 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

the Saint quietly saluted them, calling William 
de Tracy alone by his name. They took no notice 
of the salutation, but looked at one another in 
silence ; until at length Fitzurse contemptuously 
said, " God help you." The colour rose in the 
Saint's face ; and Fitzurse continued, while his 
companions still held silence, the play of their 
countenances showing what was passing in their 
minds, " We are come to you with the commands 
of the King over the water ; say whether you will 
receive them in private, or in the hearing of all?" 
"As you wish," said the Archbishop. "No; as 
you wish," rejoined Fitzurse. The Saint ordered 
all to leave the room, at Fitzurse's ultimate 
request. The door-keeper ran up, and opened 
the door, so that those who were in the next 
room could see both the Archbishop and the 
knights. As soon as Fitzurse had begun to speak 
of the absolution of the Bishops, the Saint said, 
" These are not things to be kept secret ; " and, 
not wishing to place himself in their power, called 
the door-keeper, and ordered him to send in the 
clerics and monks, but not to admit any lay 
persons. The knights afterwards confessed, that 
while they were in the room with him alone, they 
had thought of killing him with his archiepiscopal 
cross, which stood by, as there was no other 
weapon at hand. When his friends re-entered 
the room, the Saint said to the knights, " Now 
you may tell your lord's will, in their presence." 
Reginald Fitzurse answered, "As you have chosen 
to make these things public, instead of private, 
we can satisfy you, and tell these people. My 

iiyo] THE BIRTHDAY. 405 

lord the King says, that he made peace with you 
in all cordiahty ; but that you have not kept it. 
He has heard that you have gone through his 
cities with bands of armed men ; and you have 
excommunicated the Archbishop of York and the 
other Bishops, for crowning the young King. 
You must go to Winton, and do your duty to 
your lord and King," " And what am I to do ? " 
said the Saint. " You ought to know better than 
we," was the answer. " If I knew, I would not 
say I did not know ; but I believe that I have 
done my duty towards him." ** By no means," 
retorted Reginald ; " there is much to do, much 
to mend. The King's commands are, that you 
go to the young King, and take the oath of fealty, 
and swear to make amends for your treason.'' 
The Saint said, " What am I to swear fealty 
for? And what is my treason?" Neglecting 
the latter question, Fitzurse answered the former. 
" The oath of fealty is for the barony which you 
hold of the King ; and all your foreign priests, 
too, must take the same oath of allegiance." St. 
Thomas answered, " For my barony I will do my 
duty ; but know that neither I nor my clerics will 
swear any more oaths. There are enough per- 
jured and censured already. But, thank God, I 
have already absolved many, and I hope, by 
God's help, to free the rest." Reginald repHed, 
" We see that you will not do anything we pro- 
pose. The King further orders you to absolve 
the Bishops." " I did not suspend nor excom- 
municate them," said the Saint ; " but it was 
done by the Pope. You must go to him." " But," 

406 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

said Reginald, "whether you did it or no, it was 
done through you." St. Thomas answered, " I 
confess I was not sorry that the Pope punished 
the offence against my Church. As to my suffra- 
gans of London and Sahsbury, I have alread}- 
sent them word that I would absolve them, on 
their oath to observe the judgment of the 
Church ; but they have refused. The same I am 
now ready to do. All that was done, was under 
the King's permission, which he gave me on the 
day of our reconciliation. I was on my way to 
the young King when I received his orders to 
return, for which I was sorry. So far from wish- 
ing to uncrown him, I would gladly give him 
three crowns, and broad realms." 

Fitzurse became still more insulting. " What 
is that you say? It is an unexampled and 
unheard-of treachery, if the King has given any 
leave to suspend the Bishops, who were only 
present at the coronation at his own command. 
It never came into his mind. Yours is an awful 
crime, in feigning such treachery of our lord the 
King." " Reginald, Reginald," said the Arch- 
bishop, " I do not accuse the King of treachery. 
Our reconciliation was not so secretly done ; for 
Archbishops and Bishops, many men of rank, 
and many religious, and more than five hundred 
knights were there, and heard it ; and you your- 
self, Sir Reginald, were there." " I was not 
there ; " he said ; " I neither saw nor heard it." 
The Saint answered in a quiet tone of voice, 
" God knows it ; for I am certain that I saw you 
there," He swore he was not there ; and re- 

1 170] THE BIRTHDAY. 407 

peated that it was indeed a strange and unheard- 
of thing for him to accuse the King of treachery. 
" This cannot be borne any longer ; and we, the 
King's Hegemen, will not bear it any more." 
The other knights then broke silence for the first 
time, swearing again and again, by God's 
wounds, that they had borne with him far too 
long already. 

John of Salisbur}^ said, " My lord, speak in 
private about this." " There is no use," said the 
Archbishop : " they propose and demand things 
that I neither can nor ought to do." 

Fitzurse. " From whom do you hold your arch- 
bishopric ? " 

St. Thomas. " Its spiritualities from God and 
my lord the Pope, its temporalities and posses- 
sions from the King." 

Fitzurse. " Do you not acknowledge that you 
have it all from the King? " 

St. Thomas. '' By no means ; but we must give 
what is the King's to the King, and what is God's 
to God." This made them the more angr}-. 
St. Thomas continued : " Since I have landed 
under the King's safe-conduct, I have suffered 
many threats, insults, and losses. For instance, 
my men have been made prisoners, and their 
property taken from them : Robert de Broc has 
mutilated one of my horses, and Randulf de' 
Broc has violently detained my w'ine, which the 
King himself sent to England through his con- 
tinental dominions. And now you come to 
threaten me. I must say I think it very hard." 
Hugh de Moreville said, *' If the King's men have 

408 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

injured you or yours, why did you not tell the 
King, and not excommunicate them on your own 
authority ? " 

St. Thomas. " Hugh, how you hold up your 
head ! If any one injures the rights of the 
Church and refuses to make satisfaction, I shall 
wait for no one's leave to do justice." 

Fitzurse. " These threats are too much." 
Another shouted, " Threats, threats ; will he 
put the whole land under an interdict, and ex- 
communicate us all ? " And another followed : 
" God be propitious to me, he shall not do it ; he 
has excommunicated too many already." They 
leapt up, twisted their gloves, flung their arms 
about in a state of the wildest excitement, and 
altogether behaved like madmen. One rushed 
up to him and said, " We warn j-ou, that you 
have spoken to the peril of your life." Reginald 
said, " Thomas, in the King's name, I defy you." 
The Saint answered, " I know that you have 
come to kill me ; but I make God my shield. 
You threaten me in vain. If all the swords in 
England were pointed against my head, your 
terrors could not move me from the observance 
of God's justice, and the obedience of our lord 
the Pope. Foot to foot you will find me in the 
battle of the Lord. Once I went away like a 
timid priest : I have come back by the advice 
and command of the Pope ; I will never leave 
again. If I may fulfil my priestly office in peace, 
it is well for me : if I may not, God's will be 
done. Besides this, you know what there is 
between me and you ; so I am the more aston- 

ii7o] THE BIRTHDAY. 40g 

ished that you should threaten the Archbishop in 
his own house." He said this to remind Reginald 
Fitzurse, Wilham de Tracy, and Hugh de More- 
ville, that they had sworn fealty to him on their 
knees when he was Chancellor. They shouted 
out, " There is nothing between us against the 
King." Reginald Fitzurse added, " We can well 
threaten the Archbishop, we can do more : let 
us go." 

A great number of persons had now collected 
besides the ecclesiastics, especially some of the 
soldiers of the Archbishop's household, attracted 
by the loudness of the voices. Reginald turned 
to them and said, " We enjoin you in the King's 
name, whose liegemen and subjects you are, to 
leave this man." Finding that they did not move, 
he said, " We command you to keep him in safe 
custody, and produce him again when the King 
shall please." " I am easy to keep," said the 
Saint ; " I shall not go away. I will not fly for 
the King, nor for any living man." He followed 
them to the door, saying, as he placed his hand 
upon his head, the very place where he after- 
wards received his death-wound, " Here, here, 
you will find me." He called to Hugh de More- 
ville, who was the gentlest of the party, to come 
back, that he wanted to speak to him ; but he 
would not listen. As they went out, they seized 
on the seneschal, William Fitznigel, saying, 
" Come with us." Fitznigel called out to the 
Archbishop, " Do you see, my lord, what they are 
doing to me ? " He answered, " I see : this is 
their strength, and the power of darkness." The 

410 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

Saint then followed them a few steps from the 
room, asking them quietly to let Fitznigel go, but 
without effect. They also, as they went, seized 
on another soldier of the Archbishop's, called 
Ralph Morin. They passed through the hall and 
the court to the house of Gilbert, where their 
followers were, calling out loudly, with violent 
and threatening gesticulations, " Arms, men, 
arms ! " Some of their soldiers had removed the 
Archbishop's porter from the great door, and 
placed one of their own men there, so that when 
they came pouring out, shouting, " The King's 
soldiers, the King's, the King's! " the great door 
was opened for them, and immediately afterwards 
it was shut. The wicket was left open, and 
William Fitznigel, and Simon de Crioil, a soldier 
of Clarembald, the Abbot of St. Augustine's, kept 
guard on horseback in the court. 

The Saint, on failing in his attempt to recall 
Hugh de Moreville, returned to his room, and sat 
down again on the bed. John of Salisbury said 
to him, " My lord, it is a wonderful thing that 
you will take no one's counsel. What need was 
there for a man of your station to make them 
more angry by rising and following them to the 

St. Thomas. " What would you have me do, 
Dom John?" 

John of Salisbury. " You ought to have called 
your council, and given them a milder answer. 
They only try to make you angry, to take you in 
your speech ; for they seek nothing but your 


St. Thomas. " Counsel is already taken. I know 
well enough what I ought to do.'' 

John of Salisbury. " By God's blessing, I hope 
it is a good counsel." 

St. Thomas. " We must all die, and the fear of 
death must not turn us from justice ; I am more 
ready to die for God and justice, and the liberty 
of God's Church, than they are to inflict it on 

John of Salisbury. " We are sinners, and not 
ready for death ; and I see no one who purposely 
wishes to die but 3^ou." 

St. Thomas. " God's will be done." 

Some said, that there was nothing to fear, that 
it was Christmas and they were drunk, and would 
have behaved differently if they had not dined : 
" besides, the King has made his peace with us." 
Others, however, thought that they would surely 
fulfil their threat. Some people rushed in, saying, 
" My lord, my lord, they are arming." He 
answered, " What matter ? Let them arm." 
They could also hear the sound of wailing in the 
church, from a number of persons who had 
heard the proclamation to the soldiers to arm 
and hasten to the palace. The domestics ran 
down the stairs and across the hall towards the 
church, to get out of the way of the soldiers. 
The panic of most of them was complete, when 
they heard the noise of the crashing of a door 
and window in a passage which led from the 
orchard to one of the outer rooms. " My lord, 
go into the church," said the monks. " No," he 
rephed, "do not fear; monks are too timid and 

412 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

cowardly." Some tried to drag him there. Others 
said that Vespers were being sung in the choir, 
and he should go and assist at them. When he 
had moved a few steps, he stopped, because he 
saw that his cross was not borne before him as 
usual : and Henry of Auxerre then supplied the 
place of his absent cross-bearer. He made them 
all precede him ; and once he looked round to 
the right, either to see whether the soldiers 
were following, or whether any one had been 
left behind. They could not go the usual way to 
the church, so they turned down a passage which 
had long been closed. One of the monks ran on 
before to try and force the door open, of which 
they had not got the key, when the two cellarers 
or bursars of the monastery, Richard and Wil- 
liam, came up through the monks' cloister, into 
which the passage led, and tore off the bolt, and 
so opened the door. So unexpected an interfer- 
ence seemed quite like a miracle. The door was 
shut behind them, which the Saint did not much 
like. Twice he paused in the cloister, and once 
in the chapter-house, trying to compose his com- 
panions and overcome their panic. 

When the monks in the choir heard the armed 
men, and saw two terrified boys who rushed in 
among them, they were thrown into confusion. 
Some continued the Office, while others fled to 
the door by which the Archbishop was entering. 
Not knowing what might have happened, they 
were overjoyed to see him ; and said, " Come in, 
father, come in, that we may suffer together and 
be glorified together. Console us by your 


presence." He answered, " Go on with the 
Divine Office." As they still remained about the 
door, he said, " As long as you keep in the 
entrance, I will not enter." They gave way, and 
the people who were crowding forward being 
pushed back, he said on the threshold, " What 
are these people afraid of?" They answered, 
"Armed men in the cloister." He replied, "I 
will go out to them." As he looked round, they 
begged him to go into the church and up to the 
sanctuary, that he might be defended by the 
sanctity of the place. This he refused to do. 
Some of the monks brought an iron bar to fasten 
the door. He said, "Go away, cowards; let the 
blind wretches rage : I order you, in virtue of 
obedience, not to shut the door : a church ought 
not to be fortified like a castle." The monks, 
however, drew him in, and tried to fasten it. 
He immediately went to the door, saying, " Let 
my own people in ; " and moving away those who 
were close to it, he opened it, and drawing in 
with his own hands those who were outside, he 
said, " Come in, come in quickly." He was now 
urged away by those around him ; the door was, 
however, left open, opposing no barrier to the 
entrance of the soldiers, who were close at hand. 
When the knights had first entered the Arch- 
bishop's room, they had on their capes and tunics 
over their coats-of-mail. These they took off 
under a large mulberry-tree in the garden, and 
put on their swords. Fitzurse armed himself in 
the porch before the hall, making Robert Tibia, 
the Archbishop's shield-bearer, help him. Osbert 

414 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

and Algar, and others of the Archbishop's ser- 
vants, seeing the soldiers making these prepara- 
tions, shut the hall-doors, and fastened them 
securely. The knights were not able to force 
them open ; but Robert de Broc, the cleric, who 
had become familiar with the place during its 
usurpation by Randulf, called out, " Follow me ; 
I will take you in another way." He led them 
through the orchard, and tried to go straight by 
that entrance to the Archbishop's room. Not 
succeeding in this, he led them through the 
ambulatory, the wooden steps of which were 
under repair, that he might open the hall-door. 
The carpenters' tools were lying about, and Fitz- 
urse seized an axe and the others hatchets. 
Breaking a door and a window, they got into the 
hall, and after severely wounding the servants 
who had closed the doors, they re-opened them. 
They then rushed over the palace, and not finding 
the Archbishop in his room, they followed him 
rapidly through the cloister to the church. Fitz- 
urse entered on the right hand, the other three 
on the left ; they all had their swords drawn, 
while in their left hands they held the carpenters' 
tools they had picked up. They were so covered 
with their armour, their vizors being down, that 
nothing was visible of their persons but their 
eyes. Fitzurse shouted, " This way to me, king's 
men ! " They were followed by a number of their 
soldiers with weapons, though not in armour, 
and some of the townsmen of Canterbury, whom 
they had forced to join them. 

It was about five o'clock on an evening in mid- 


winter, and almost dark. If the Saint had chosen, 
he could have easily concealed himself, and so 
have escaped his death. But he had already said 
that the time for flight was past ; so that he did 
not avail himself of the neighbouring cr3'pt, nor 
of the hiding-places in the very accessible roof. 
John of Salisbury and the other clerics fled away, 
and hid themselves behind the altars, and where- 
ever they could find refuge, leaving him with only 
three, Robert the Prior of Merton, William Fitz- 
stephen, and Edward Grim. A little later the 
first two followed the others, leaving Grim alone 
with him. Whether this faithful cleric carried 
his cross at this time is not recorded, but the 
tradition, especially in pictures of the event, is 
so uniform, that it is not improbable that he took 
it from Henry of Auxerre, when the panic seized 

The three who remained with him urged him 
up the steps which led from the transept towards 
the choir. The Saint said to them, " Leave hold 
of me, and go away ; there is nothing for you to 
do here ; let God dispose of me according to His 
will." On the entrance of the soldiers into the 
church, one of them called to the monks who 
were with him, " Do not move." Another cried 
out, " Where is Thomas Becket, the traitor to 
the King?" To this no answer was returned. 
Fitzurse, who was on the right hand of the 
knights, said to one against whom he had run, 
"Where is the Archbishop?" The Saint instantly 
answered, having first made a slight motion of 
his head to the monks, " Here I am ; no traitor, 

4l6 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

but the Archbishop." He came down the steps 
which he had ascended, and turned to the right, 
under the column by which he had been hidden 
from the knights on their first entrance. He now 
had a statue of our Blessed Lady before him,^ 
with her altar in the nave beyond it ; on his right 
was the altar of St. Benedict, and on his left his 
cross. His back was to the wall. Some one 
struck him on the shoulders with the flat of his 
sword, saying, " Fly, or you are a dead man." 
He answered, '* I will not fly." The four knights 
now came up, with Hugh of Horsea, a sub- 
deacon, named Mauclerc, calling out, "Absolve 
the Bishops immediately, whom you have excom- 
municated." He said, " I will do nothing more 
than I have already said and done." 

The Saint then turned to Fitzurse, " Reginald, 
Reginald, I have done you many favours ; do 
you come against me in arms ? " " You shall 
know it," he said; and added, "Are you not a 
traitor ? " The Saint replied, " I do not fear your 
threats, for I am prepared to die for God ; but let 
my people go, and do not touch them." Fitzurse 
laid hold of his robe, knocking off his cap with 
his sword, saying, " Come, you are my prisoner." 
The Saint answered, " Do with me here what you 
will ; " and he pulled the border of his cappa 
from his hand. They then tried to put him on 
William de Tracy's shoulders, and carry him out 
of the church ; but he stood firmly in his place, 
keeping fast hold of the column in the middle of 
the transept, and Edward Grim assisted him. One 
3 See Note I. 


of his assailants, probably Fitzurse, he laid hold of 
by his coat-of-mail, and nearly threw him down 
on the pavement, calling him by a name'^ which 
reproached him for the immorality of his life, and 
adding, " You shall not touch me, Reginald ; you 
are my man, and owe me fealty and submission." 
Fitzurse answered, " I owe you neither fealty nor 
homage, contrary to my fealty to the King." 

Fitzurse, seeing that they could not drag him 
away, and beginning to be afraid of the inter- 
ference of the people, who were assembled in the 
church for Vespers, flung down the two-edged 
axe which he had brought to force the door, and 
which was found there after the martyrdom, and 
waved his sword, crying out, " Strike, strike." 
When the Saint saw that the blow was coming, 
he joined his hands, and covered his eyes with 
them, and bowing his head, said, " I commend 
myself to God, to holy Mary, to blessed Denys, 
and St. Elphege." The first severe blow was a 
slanting one. Grim attempted to ward it off, 
and received so grievous a wound that his arm 
was nearly severed. The blow nevertheless fell 
upon the Saint, and wounded that part of his 
head where the sacred unction had been poured 
at his consecration, which was marked by his 
tonsure. It then glanced upon the left shoulder, 
and cut through the vestments to the flesh. We 
know that this stroke was inflicted by William de 
Tracy, for he afterwards boasted at Saltwood 
that he had cut off John of Salisbury's arm ; 
either the dim light or the excitement of the 
4 Grim, p. 436; Will. Cant. p. 133. 

4l8 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 31 

moment having caused him to mistake the person 
whom he had wounded. Grim fled to the nearest 
altar, our Lady's or St. Benedict's, where several 
of the monks had also taken refuge. One of the 
monks received a blow on the head from the 
flat of a sword. William of Canterbur}', fearing 
a general slaughter when he heard the words 
*' Strike, strike," ran up the steps, clapping his 
hands, and at the sound those monks who had 
remained in choir, at Vespers, dispersed. 

The Saint wiped the blood that was flowing 
from his head with his arm ; and when he saw it, 
he gave thanks to God, saying, " Into Thy hands, 
O Lord, I commend my spirit." Bowing he 
awaited the second blow, which struck him again 
upon the head, but he did not move. When struck 
a third time, probably by Fitzurse, the blow made 
him falls flj-st on his knees, and then on his face. 
His hands were still joined, and his cappa covering 
him down to his feet, he looked as if he were 
prostrate in prayer. He was lying towards the 
north,^ having fallen to the right hand, before the 
altar of St. Benedict. He breathed his last words 
in a low voice, but so as to be overheard by the 
wounded Grim, who alone records them. They 
were, " For the Name of Jesus, and the defence 
of the Church, I am ready to die." The fourth 
blow was dealt by Richard Le Breton, who, on 

5 Grim (p. 437) says that the fall was caused by the third 
blow; Benedict (p. 13) and Fitzstephen (p. 141) by the second, 
but the latter, though stating that the Saint received four blows 
on the head, describes only three. 

6 Garnier, 74 b, 11. 

iiyo] THE BIRTHDAY. 4ig 

being reproached for his backwardness, struck 
with such force that the sword was shivered 
on the pavement, saying, "Take that for the 
love of my lord William, the King's brother." 
This was an allusion to an unlawful marriage 
between William Plantagenet and the Countess 
of Warrenne, which St. Thomas had prevented.'' 
Hugh of Horsea, the subdeacon, placed his 
foot on the Martyr's neck, and with the point 
of his sword drew the brains from the wound 
and scattered them on the pavement;^ for Le 
Breton's blow had so separated the crown of the 
head from the skull, that it was attached only by 
the skin of the forehead. Hugh de Moreville 
contented himself with keeping back the people, 
and was the only one of the four who did not 
strike the Martyr. Hugh Mauclerc shouted out, 
"Let us go; the traitor is dead; he will rise 
no more." They all rushed from the church by 
the way by which they had entered, shouting the 
fatal watch-word to which the deed had been 
perpetrated, " The King's men, the King's men ! " 

7 See Note J. 

8 Benedict (p. 13) attributes this to Le Breton, Herbert 
(p. 506) to Robert de Broc. 



1 170 — 1 172. 

The palace sacked — the Saint's body — devotion of the people — 
threats of Randulf de Broc — the Saint's vestments — he is 
buried in the crypt — the body removed for a short time — 
miracles— the Cathedral reconciled — grief of the young King 
—conduct of King Henry— his messengers to the Pope — 
sentence of his Holiness — absolution of the Bishops — the 
King goes to Ireland — his absolution at Avranches. 

William de Tracy afterwards confessed to 
Bartholomew, Bishop of Exeter/ that his heart 
failed him w'hen all was over, and he dreaded 
lest the earth should open and swallow him up. 
They allowed themselves no time for reflection 

I So it is given in the MS. lessons for the Church of Exeter, 
compiled by Bishop Grandisson, and kindly copied for me by 
the Rev. Dr. Oliver from Grandisson's autograph copy in the 
possession of the Dean and Chapter of Exon. Giraldus Cam- 
brensis (Angl. Sacr. p. 426) affirms deliberately that William de 
Tracy confessed to Bartholomew that the four knights had been 
bound by the King by oath to put the Primate to death ; and he 
says that their reproach against Hugh de Moreville for not 
having taking a more active part bears out this statement. He 
adds, that this induced the Bishop of Exeter to change his 
opinion respecting the King's complicity. It is singular that 
Herbert should say (ii. p. 301), that when Tracy went to the 
Pope, he gave an account of the whole matter that exculpated 
the King as much as possible. That many of the guilty parties 
came to Bartholomew for absolution is plain from instructions 
the Pope sent him (Ep. Gilb. Pol. ii. p. So), in answer to his 
inquiries how he should distinguish between the degrees of 
participation in the guilt. 

II70— 1172] ABSOLUTION. 421 

or remorse. Robert de Broc had not come into 
the church, but with some others had gone to 
the Archbishop's room to guard his goods. As 
the knights rushed away, they inflicted a severe 
wound on a French servant of the Archdeacon 
of Sens, for lamenting the Martyr. They then 
joined Robert de Broc, and broke open the 
Saint's chests and desks ; the gold and silver 
as well as the books which they found, they took 
away. There was the gold chalice- with which 
the Saint said Mass, and Garnier records, a 
knife that was "worth a city," and his ring 
with a sapphire in it of singular beauty. All 
the documents. Bulls of Popes, charters and 
privileges, and other papers, Randulf de Broc 
took possession of, to send to the King in Nor- 
mandy. The soldiers roamed all over the palace, 
taking every thing of value, even precious stuffs 
which were intended for vestments for the 
church. They did not spare the rooms of the 
clerics, and they took from the stables the Arch- 
bishop's horses. All this spoil, which Fitz- 
stephens estimated at two thousand marks, they 
divided amongst themselves. They found, to 
their astonishment, amongst the Saint's things, 
two hair-shirts, which they threw away. 

As soon as the report of what had happened 
got abroad, people flocked in. Their grief and 
horror at the double sacrilege were general, — we 
should have said universal, if Grim had not 
heard one, an ecclesiastic like himself, say that 
he was not a martyr, for he had died through 
2 Garnier, 74 b, 21. 

422 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

his obstinacy. When the multitude of people 
had left the Cathedral, the monks locked the 
doors. The holy body lay for some time deserted, 
when Osbert,^ his Chamberlain, came, and cutting 
off a portion of his surplice, placed it over 
the head. When it was known that the mur- 
derers were gone, the clerics and monks, with 
the servants and a number of the townspeople, 
surrounded the relics. The silence was broken, 
and the sobs and lamentations were the louder 
for the restraint that fear had hitherto placed 
upon them. They called him " St. Thomas ; " 
and there was not one among them who was 
not marked with his blood, for they dipped their 
fingers in it, and under his invocation signed 
with it their foreheads and their eyes. They 
raised the body and laid it on a bier, to carry 
to the high altar. Beneath it they placed a 
vessel to receive the blood, which was still run- 
ning from the wound. All were struck with the 
beauty of the face ; •* the eyes and mouth were 
closed, the colour was fresh, and it appeared as 
if he were asleep. The blood had formed a sort 
of crown round his head, but the face was clear, 
save only a light graceful line which passed from 
the right temple across the nose to the left cheek. 
They covered the wound with a white linen cloth, 
and the cap was fastened on. Beneath the body, 

3 This Osbert (named also Supra, p. 413) is probably the same 
person as Osbern, who was with the Saint at Northampton 
{Siipra, p. 185). 

4 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 304. This is a letter to the Pope from 
some one who arrived at Canterbury on the day of the murder 
and saw the Saint's dead body. 

iiyo— II72] ABSOLUTION. 423 

an iron hammer and the axe were found. The 
people, in the confusion, made the best use of 
their hberty by filHng httle vessels with the blood, 
and tearing off pieces of their clothing and dip- 
ping them in it. No one was content who had 
not secured a portion of it. After a short time, 
one of the monks who was a goldsmith, named 
Ernpld, went to the spot of the martyrdom with 
some others, and collected into a vessel all the 
brain and blood which were on the pavement ; 
and to prevent any one from treading on the 
place, they brought some movable benches and 
put them all round. Vigil was kept all night, 
the monks saying in silence the commendation 
of the soul. Robert, the Prior of Merton, who, 
as his confessor, knew his austerities, showed 
the monks, who had no suspicion of anything 
of the kind, how he was vested. He put his 
hand into the Martyr's bosom, and pointed out 
that his cappa, as a canon regular,^ covered his 
cowl as a monk, and that under this was his 
hair-shirt. The sight turned their sorrow into 
spiritual joy; they knelt down, kissed his hands 
and feet, and called him, '' St. Thomas, God's 
holy and glorious Martyr." Thus the morning 
found them, watching around the precious relics 
before the high altar. The night had set in dark 
and stormy, but later on a red light filled the sky. 
The next morning, Robert de Broc was sent 
by Randulf with a message to the monks: "He 

5 " Sub habitu canonici regularis, eum in habitu et ordine 
monachorum tarn secreto diu repenunt exstitisse, ut etiam hoc 
suos lateret familiares" (Grim, p. 442). 

424 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

died the death of a traitor, and the earth is rid 
of him ; but he deserves no better treatment 
dead than ahve. Put his body somewhere where 
it may not be known, or I will come and drag 
him out by the feet, and fling him piecemeal to 
the swine and dogs." The monks hurriedly 
closed the doors, and carried the precious trea- 
sure into the crypt ; and both on account of the 
haste which was necessary lest some further vio- 
lence should be used, and out of reverence to 
the Martyr's blood with w'hich the body was 
bathed, they refrained from washing it and 
anointing it with balsams, as was usually done 
to the Archbishops of Canterbury. Such was 
also the counsel of the Abbot of Boxley and the 
Prior of Dover. They prepared, however, to 
bury him in his archiepiscopal vestments, and 
for this purpose they took off his black cappa 
with its white lambswool, and his fine linen sur- 
plice, which, enriched with the stains of his blood, 
were given to the poor. They were sold for a 
trifle, and came into the possession of William 
of Bourne,^ a worthy priest who lived in the 
neighbourhood of Canterbury. Under these came 
two other lambswool pelisses, w'hich were also 
parted with ; and Garnier speaks of them as 
reverently preserved as relics. Then came the 
Cistercian cowl that the Pope had blessed, with 
its sleeves cut short, that it might not be ob- 
served. When the bystanders saw the habit, 
they exclaimed, " See, see, he was a true monk, 
and we did not know it." 

They left on him the Benedictine woollen 

6 Bened. pp. 52, 54. 

II70— II72] ABSOLUTION. 425 

shirt and cowl,^ as well as his hair-shirt,^ which, 
to their astonishment, extended down to the 
knees. This was covered with linen, and so 
made that it could be readily undone, to enable 
him to receive the discipline. This hair-shirt 
was alive with vermin, the torment of which 
must have made his life a martyrdom. In the 
breast of the hair-shirt, was the letter he had 
received on Sunday, warning him of his coming 
fate. He was vested in the vestments in which 
he had been consecrated ; a simple superhumeral 
or amice, the alb, chrismatic,^ mitre, stole, and 
maniple ; all these he had preserved for this 
purpose : he had also the tunicle, dalmatic, cha- 
suble, the pall with its pins, gloves, ring, sandals, 
and pastoral staff. The chalice as usual was 
placed with him, and he was laid in a new marble 
coffin in the crypt, behind the chapel of " Our 
Lady Undercroft," and before the two altars 
of St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine, the 
Apostle of England. The doors'° were then se- 
curel}^ fastened, and the vessel containing the 
blood and brain was placed outside. The crypt 
remained closed until the Easter following. If 
any one was admitted, it was secretly done ; but 

7 Stamineam videlicet et cucullam (Bened. p. 17). 
' 8 The hair-shirt, which was afterwards hung up near the 
tomb, and the sacred vestments, were taken out later, probably 
at the Translation in 1220. See Note O. 

9 The chrismatic was the linen band that was bound round 
the head, during the consecration, to prevent the holy oil, with 
which the tonsure is anointed, from running down upon the 
vestments. The amice was " simple," that is, without apparels : 
the alb on the seal {Supra, p.SS) has apparels on the sleeves only. 

10 Bened. pp. 60, 77, Si ; Gerv. p. 229. 

426 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

the miracles becoming exceedingly frequent,- as 
a subsequent chapter will show, and their fame 
ver}^ widely spread, so that the memorable places 
were m.uch visited, the crypt was thrown open 
at the urgent petition of the people, on the 2nd 
of April, being the Friday in Easter week. Mira- 
cles followed in still greater numbers, and the 
report of them aroused anew all the hatred of 
the De Broc family. One day news was brought 
to the monks, that that night they were to be 
forcibly deprived of the treasure that they had 
learnt to prize so highly, the body of their great 
Martyr. They therefore moved it from the mar- 
ble coffin into one of wood, which they hid behind 
the altar of the Blessed Virgin, and they watched 
all night in the church. Like the night after 
the martyrdom, there was a violent thunderstorm. 
The next day two more miracles took place, one 
of them at the altar of the Blessed Virgin, where 
the Saint's body had been placed during the 
night ; so the monks, taking courage, restored 
the relics to the crypt, and built around the 
marble coffin walls, most solidly constructed of 
large wrought stones, united with iron clamps 
and lead. There was a space of about a foot 
between the top of the coffin and the roof of this 
structure, and they left two openings or windows, 
through which the devout pilgrim might touch 
and kiss the coffin itself. 

In consequence of the violation of the church, 
no Mass was said ; and the Cathedral remained 
in its widowhood and mourning for a year all 
but ten days, till the feast of St. Thomas the 

iiyo— II72] ABSOLUTION. 427 

Apostle, 1171. The Divine Office was recited 
by the monks without chanting, in the chapter- 
house ; the altars were stripped, and the cruci- 
fixes veiled, as in Passion-tide. The power which 
had been conferred by the Pope upon the Car- 
dinals Theodwin and Albert, of reconciling the 
Cathedral, was by them transferred to the Bishops 
of Exeter and Lichfield, at the request of Odo, 
the Prior. 

When the account of the martyrdom reached 
the young King at Winton, he threw up his 
hands and his eyes to heaven, expressing his 
thanks to God that he had known nothing of 
it, and that none of his followers had been there. 
Hugh de Gondreville and William Fitz John 
were on their way to Canterbury, but they had 
not arrived at the time of the martyrdom. 
Doubtless his grief was sincere, for he had a 
true affection for his old guardian ; and whatever 
there had lately been that seemed unkind in his 
conduct, was probably done under the direction 
of his father and his counsellors. 

King Henry had gone from Bur, where the 
words were spoken which caused the martyrdom, 
to Argentan in Normandy. When he heard what 
had happened, he remained there for forty days 
in penance, on fasting diet, remaining solitary, 
and saying again and again, " O that it should 
have happened ! O that it should have hap- 
pened ! " During this time he did not ride out, 
nor hear causes, nor summon councils, nor con- 
duct any of the affairs of Government. He sent 
messengers to Canterbury as well as to the Pope. 

428 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

The former were to say that he had given the 
knights no such commission, and that the body 
was to be properly buried ; for though he had 
been opposed to the Archbishop when ahve, he did 
not persecute him now that he was dead, and that 
he forgave his soul the injuries he had committed 
against him. It is impossible to avoid one con- 
clusion, that although it would probably be unjust 
to attribute the martyrdom to the will of King 
Henry II., or to consider as insincere his sorrow 
for it, as an act disgraceful to himself, and going 
further in severity than he would have gone, 
yet evidently he had no contrition whatever for 
the course he had pursued in the life of the 
Saint, nor any greater regard than before for 
the rights of the Church. In this sense, with 
the sole exception of the verbal retractation of 
the Constitutions of Clarendon at his absolution, 
the blood of St. Thomas was shed in vain. 

John Cumin" was at the Court of the Pope 
when the intelligence arrived. He had come to 
try to obtain the absolution of the Bishops ; and 
though, on his first arrival, it had cost him five 
hundred marks and hard entreaty to obtain an 
audience, yet he had nearly succeeded when the 
sad news came. Alexander Llewellyn and Gun- 
ter, who had left the Saint so shortly before his 
death, were the bearers of his last letter. The 
report of the martyrdom reached them on their 
journey ; and to their despatches to the Pope 
were added the strongest denunciations from the 

II The King's messengers give this account of themselves (Ep. 
Gilb. Fol. ii. pp. 198, 260). 

II70— II72] ABSOLUTION. 429 

Archbishop of Sens'^ against the guilty Bishops, 
and against the King as the virtual murderer. 
Similar letters were written by King Louis'^ and 
other personages. The Holy Father on receiving 
the news shut himself up in grief, not allowing 
even his own suite to see him for eight days, 
and a general order was issued, that no English- 
man should be admitted into his presence. 

It was fully expected that on Maundy Thursday 
the Pope would excommunicate the King, and 
lay the realm under an interdict. On the Satur- 
day before Palm Sunday, King Henry's messen- 
gers reached Tusculum, now called Frascati, 
where the Pope then was. They consisted of 
the Abbot of Valace, the Archdeacons of Salis- 
bury and Lisieux, Richard Barre, Henry Pinchun, 
and a Templar. They were the bearers of letters ^■^ 
from the King, framed in very offensive terms : 
" On his first entrance he brought not the joy 
of peace, but fire and the sword, while he raised 
a question against me touching my realm and 
crown. Besides, he was the aggressor upon my 
ser\'ants, excommunicating them without a cause. 
Men not being able to bear such insolence, some 
of those who were excommunicated, with some 
others from England, attacked him, and, what 
I cannot say without sorrow, killed him," Henry 
must have had a very faint idea of the way in 
which the death of St. Thomas would be felt by 

12 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 160. 

13 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 306. 

14 The letter is not in Dr. Giles's collection, but is given b 
Martene [Tlies. Nov. Anecd. i. p. 559). 

430 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

the Church, when he wrote that letter. It is 
simple effrontery to write to the Pope about " fire 
and sword," when the censures for the coronation 
were passed by the Pope himself. Henry must 
have known that the excommunications were not 
" without a cause," for he had himself consented 
to them ; and he must have said " others from 
England," in order to conceal from the Pope 
that the murderers left his own Court in conse- 
quence of expressions used by himself. 

The Holy Father would not admit the Embassy 
to kiss his foot, nor would the Cardinals receive 
them. At length, by the influence of some of 
the King's friends, the Abbot of Valace, and the 
Archdeacon of Lisieux, as the least suspected 
parties, were admitted to the Consistory. When 
they named the King, and called him a devout 
son of the Roman Church, all the Court cried 
out, " Hold, hold ! " Late in the evening they 
went from the Court to His Holiness, " to declare 
all the favours which the King had conferred 
upon St. Thomas, and the excesses he had com- 
mitted against the Crown." Alexander Llewellyn 
and Gunter were there, and the King's messen- 
gers made no impression, though they repeated 
before the Pope and Cardinals what they had 
said to the Pope in private. Maundy Thursday 
was coming on, and as yet nothing effectual had 
been done to stop the sentence which had been 
so long deserved. At length, by the advice of 
those Cardinals who had always been partial to 
Henry, the messengers declared to the Pope, 
that the King had empowered them to swear 


in the presence of the Holy Father, that he 
would obey his command, and would renew the 
same oath in person. This oath, which, if the 
King had been really contrite, would have been 
offered at first, and which would not have re- 
quired the tone of apology in which his mes- 
sengers mention it in their report to him, was 
solemnly taken by them all, as well as by the 
representatives of the Archbishop of York and 
the Bishops of London and Salisbury, in the 
full Consistory on Maundy Thursday, at three 
in the afternoon. The Pope then, in general 
terms, excommunicated the murderers of St. 
Thomas, and all who had given them counsel, 
aid, or assent, or had knowingly harboured them. 
The Archbishop of Sens had been added to the 
commission before the martyrdom was known, and 
had received the same powers as the Archbishop 
of Rouen. The latter prelate now protested ^^ 
against any exercise of that legatine power, 
under pretext of an appeal to the Pope ; but the 
Archbishop of Sens laid the King's continental 
dominions under an interdict, and notified what 
he had done to his Holiness. This sentence the 
King's messengers on their way to the Holy See 
had in vain attempted to avert. The Bishops 
of Worcester and Evreux, with Robert of New- 
burgh, reached Frascati a few days after Easter. 
After a fortnight they were summoned to hear 
the decision. The Pope confirmed the interdict 
published by the Archbishop of Sens, and forbade 
the King to enter the church, until Legates should 
15 Ep S. Tho. ii. pp. 72, 165, 206. 

432 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

arrive, whom he was about to send to judge of 
his dispositions. With great difficulty, by the 
intercession of some of the Cardinals, and, it 
was reported, by the help of a large sum of 
money, they succeeded in obtaining letters to 
the Archbishop of Bourges, with powers to ab- 
solve the Bishops of London and Salisbury from 
their excommunication, on the exaction of the 
usual oath, if after a month from their receipt 
he did not hear that the Legates had crossed 
the Alps. These Bishops, however, as well as 
the others, were to remain under their suspension. 
About the beginning of August'^ the Bishop of 
London was so far absolved, but by the Bishops 
of Nevers and Beauvais, and the Abbot of Pon- 
tigny, at Gisors. On the 6th of December the 
Archbishop of York was freed from his suspension 
at Albemarle''' by the Archbishop of Rouen and 
the Bishop of Amiens, on his taking oath that 
he had not received the Pope's letters prohibiting 
the coronation before it was performed ; that he 
had not bound himself on that occasion to ob- 
serve the Constitutions of Clarendon ; and that he 
had not wilfully caused the death of St. Thomas 

16 Diceto, p. 557. 

17 The letter in which he announces his absolution to his clergy 
(Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 173; Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 265), dated Decem- 
ber 13, Monday in the third week in Advent, is petulant in the 
extreme ; and in it he calls St. Thomas Pliarao, to the great 
indignation of his followers (Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 260). It is worthy 
of remark, that, in the letter (Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 172) in which 
he thanks the Pope for his absolution, he says that the King 
heard " from many " what irritated him against the Saint ; and 
that then Gilbert Foliot did his utmost, even with tears, to pacify 

II70— II72] ABSOLUTION. 433 

by word, by deed, or by writing. On the Bishop 
of London taking an oath to the same effect, he 
also was absolved at the same place, by the same 
prelates, on the ist of May following. 

In the month of August, 1171, the King crossed 
the Channel on his way to Ireland. During his 
short stay in England he visited the venerable 
Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, who up- 
braided him severely for his share in the death 
of St. Thomas. The Bishop died on the 27th 
of that month. The King gave orders,'^ after his 
old fashion, that the ports on both sides of the 
Channel were to be diligently kept, and any one 
found bearing an interdict to be immediately 
imprisoned. He ordered that no cleric was to 
be permitted to leave the kingdom without an 
oath not to be a party to any measure against 
himself or the realm. He also added, that no 
one bearing letters was to have access to him. 
It was shrewdly conjectured, that one motive of 
his invasion of Ireland, in addition to his other 
schemes, was to be out of the way, lest any 
ecclesiastical censures should be served upon 

Cardinal Albert, afterwards Pope Gregory VIII. 
now Cardinal of St. Lorenzo in and Chan- 
cellor of the Holy Roman Church, and Theod- 
win, Cardinal of St. Vitalis, were sent as Legates; 
but the reconciliation of Canterbury Cathedral 
was the only work which they performed in 1171. 
It was difficult, after all his precautions, to get 
access to King Henry ; but their letters of warn- 

18 Gerv. p. 234. 

434 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

ing being at length delivered, on Easter Tuesda}^ 
the King returned to England, and, having sent 
messengers to the Legates to ask where they 
would meet him, they had an interview at the 
Abbey of Savigny. Its only result \vas, that 
Henry refused to do what the Legates required ; 
and it was thought that he would return to 
England. The next day, however, Arnulf the 
Bishop of Lisieux, with the two Archdeacons, 
came to them to say the King had given way. 
The Legates accordingly entered Avranches, in 
company with him, on the Fifth Sunday after 

"The great Norman Cathedral of that beautiful 
city," says a modern writer,'^ "stood on what 
perhaps the finest situation of any Cathedral in 
Christendom, — on the brow of the high ridge 
which sustains the town of Avranches, and look- 
ing over the wide bay, in the centre of which 
stands the sanctuary of Norman chivalry, the 
majestic rock of St. Michael, crowned with its 
fortress and chapel. Of this vast Cathedral, one 
granite pillar alone has survived the storm of 
the French Revolution ; and that pillar marks 
the spot where Henry performed his first penance. 
It bears an inscription with these words : ' Sur 
cette pierre, ici, a la porte de la cathedrale 
d' Avranches, apres le meurtre de Thomas Becket, 
Archeveque de Cantorbery, Henri II. Roi d'Angle- 
terre et Due de Normandie, re9ut a genoux, des 
legats du Pape, Tabsolution apostolique, le Di- 
manche, xxii Mai, mclxxii.' " 

19 Stanley's Canicrbuvy, p. 116. 

II70— II72] ABSOLUTION. 435 

The young King came that he might express 
his assent to all that his father should do. On 
the Sunday before the Ascension, with his hand 
on the Holy Gospels, King Henry swore that he 
had neither commanded nor wished the death 
of the Saint ; and, he voluntarily added, that he 
had grieved more for it than for his father and 
mother. Still, as he feared that his angry ex- 
pressions had been the occasion of the sin, he 
vowed to accept whatever penance the Legates 
might inflict upon him. 

They first -° made him swear that he would never 
leave the obedience of Pope Alexander and his 
successors, as long as they treated him like a 
Catholic and Christian king. His son Henry 
then took the same oath. The next clause was, 
that for a year, dating from Pentecost, he would 
pay for two hundred soldiers to be placed at 
the disposal of the Templars. He also vowed 
to take the Cross for three years, to date from 
the following Christmas ; and in the summer to 
proceed in person to the Holy Land, unless 
the Pope gave him leave to remain. His 
joining the Crusade was to be delayed for 
any length of time he might spend in fighting 
against the Saracens in Spain. He then swore 
that he would not hinder appeals in ecclesiastical 
causes to the Church of Rome, nor would he 
suffer them to be hindered ; and that in good 
faith, without fraud or evil design, in order that 
the causes might be judged by the Pope, and 
have their free course. He was at liberty, how- 

20 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. pp. 119, 122. 

436 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 32 

ever, in the case of those whom he suspected, 
to require bail that they would do no harm while 
abroad to himself and his kingdom. The posses- 
sions of the Church of Canterbury he swore to 
restore as they were the year before the exile of 
St. Thomas ; and he finally promised his favour 
and restitution to all clerics or laymen who had 
been deprived of them on account of the Saint. 

The customs which had been introduced against 
the Church in his time he renounced on oath, 
promising not to demand their observance from 
the Bishops. That he did not mean to pledge 
himself to much by this clause appears from his 
own comment upon it, in a letter written by him^' 
to the Bishop of Exeter previous to the meeting 
at Caen on the subsequent Tuesday: "These 
customs, I think, are very few, if any." That 
the renunciation of the customs of Clarendon 
practically meant little is proved by that which 
Dr. Stubbs, in his Constitutional History of 
England,-^ calls " the fact that, notwithstanding 
the storm that followed, they formed the ground- 
work of the later customary practice in all such 

The young King made oath that he would 
observe all that his father had sworn ; and that, 
if he survived him, and the penance were unful- 
filled, he would himself fulfil it. There were 
added some private penances of fasting and alms, 
which were not published. The Archbishop of 

21 Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 268. 

22 The Constitutional History of England. By William Stubbs, 
M.A., Regius Professor of History. Oxford, 1S75, vol. i. p. 466. 

iiyo— 1172] ABSOLUTION. 437 

Tours and his suffragans were present at Caen 
on the Tuesda}' after the Ascension, when the 
King repeated the oaths before a still larger au- 
dience than at Avranches ; and he affixed his 
seal to the document ^^ which the Cardinals had 
drawn up and sealed. 

When the King had given a free assent to all 
that was required of him, he added, " See, my 
lords Legates, my body is in your hands. Know 
for certain, that if you order me to go to Jeru- 
salem or Rome or St. James, or whatever else 
you may command, I am prepared to obey." 
The Legates then led him outside the church 
door, where, kneeling, he was readmitted into 
the church, from which he had been interdicted. 

23 Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 119; Gerv. p. 239. 



1171 — 1174. 

The four murderers — coronation of Margaret, wife of the young 
King — elections to the vacant sees — rebellion of the young 
King — King Henry's visit to Canterbury — his penance at the 
Saint's tomb — St. Thomas's sisters and their children — 
victory over the King of Scots — St. Thomas's dream — Her- 
bert taxes the King with the Saint's death— pilgrimage of 
King Louis of France — John of Salisbury elected Bishop of 
Chartres — Herbert of Bosham — Alexander Llewellyn — other 
friends of the Saint. 

The four knights went back to St. Augustine's, 
and then to Saltvvood, when they had done their 
worst. The ancient tradition says, that they 
were afraid to return to the King, for whose sake 
they had committed one of the greatest crimes 
on record. They went to Knaresborough,' which 
belonged to Hugh de Moreville, one of their 
number. No one would speak with them, eat 
with them, or drink with them : and the very 
dogs refused to eat of the fragments of their food. 
They remained there a year ; and then went to 
the Pope, to receive from him their penance, by 
whom they were sent to Jerusalem. It was said, 
that they all died soon ; and that there was good 
reason to hope that, by the intercession of the 
holy Martyr, they died penitent. Such was the 
I Hoved. f. 299. 

II7I— II74] PENANCE. 439 

tradition : a recent writer- has, however, carefully 
traced the facts of their subsequent history ; and 
he has shown that "the murderers, within the first 
two years of the murder, were living at Court on 
familiar terms with the King, and constantly joined 
him in the pleasures of the chase." They were 
unpunished, and their social position unaffected. 
Tracy showed the most contrition, and went on 
a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land. He 
also, "' for the love of God, and of his soul, and 
of the souls of his predecessors, and for the love 
of blessed Thomas the Archbishop and Mart}^ 
of venerable memory,'" founded a chaplaincy for 
the maintenance of a religious, who should say 
Mass in the Cathedral, where he had committed 
the murder. 

The King of France had complained, that his 
daughter Margaret had not been crowned as well 
as her husband. By the advice of the Cardinal 
Legates, and under the authority of the Holy 
See, that ceremony was performed at Winchester, 
on the 27th of August, 1172, the anniversary of 
the death of the last Bishop of that city, by 
Rotrou, Archbishop of Rouen, with the assistance 
of Giles, Bishop of Evreux, and Geoffrey, Provost 
of Chartres, as well as of a few of the suffragans 
of Canterbury. King Louis had especially peti- 
tioned the Pope, that the Archbishop of York and 
the Bishops of London and Salisbury might not 
be allowed to be present. 

These coronations, however, which were in- 
tended as a weapon against the Church, recoiled 

- See Note K. 

440 ST, THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

heavily upon the head of the King, who had pro- 
moted them. The young King began to assert 
his right to interfere, and claimed a power inde- 
pendent of his father. One of his first acts against 
him was to protest ^ to the Prior of Canterbury 
against the election of the new Archbishop being 
performed without his leave. It must be acknow- 
ledged, that it is impossible to feel any sympathy 
with the old King, who had behaved in this 
election just as he used to do, showing how un- 
stable his amendment had been. The archi- 
episcopal see was vacant for two years and five 
months : at first, the Prior was put off with fair 
words, when he begged for a free election ; the 
King then tried to persuade him to name the 
Bishop of Bayeux, a man the very opposite in 
character to St. Thomas. This failing, the Prior 
and Convent submitted three names to the King, 
through Richard de Luci ; of these Roger, Abbot 
of Bee was elected, who, however, absolutely 
refused to accept the dignity. The elections for 
the vacant suffragan sees now took place ; and 
the names of those chosen to them prove that it 
was still easier to obtain promotion by having 
taken the King's part than by having suffered 
with the Martyr in the late struggle. Most of 
the new Bishops were the worst enemies of 
St. Thomas. Richard of Ilchester, and Geoffrey 
Ridel, who have been almost equally prominent 
as the King's partisans, so that they have been 
called more than once in this narrative " the two 
Archdeacons," were raised respectively to the 

3 Gerv. p. 245. 

1I7I— 1174] PENANCE. 44I 

sees of Winchester and Ely. John of Oxford, 
the not less notorious Dean of Salisbury, was made 
Bishop of Norwich. Reginald Fitz-Jocelin the Lom- 
bard, Archdeacon of Salisbury, who was originally 
in the service of the Saint, but who had deserted* 
him to take part with the King, and who had 
advised Prince Henry's coronation, became Bishop 
of Bath. The choice of Robert Foliot, Arch- 
deacon of Oxford, for the Cathedral of Hereford, 
shows the power of the recommendation of his 
cousin, Gilbert of London, towards whom he had 
evinced 5 sympathy. The remaining nominations 
were, John, Dean of Chichester, for that see, and 
Geoffrey, the son of King Henry and Rosamond 
Clifford, who was raised from the archdeaconry 
to the episcopal throne of Lincoln. He never 
was consecrated, and was ultimately obliged by 
the Pope to resign. Finally Richard, the Prior 
of Dover, was elected Archbishop of Canterbury ; 
and on the young King protesting against the 
election, he went to Rome, where he was conse- 
crated by the Pope. 

The young King took up arms against his 
father ; and his example was followed by his 
brother, who was afterwards the famous Richard 
Coeur de Lion. These rebelhons led King Henry 
to write his famous letter to the Pope, which 
furnished so striking a contrast to many of the 
actions of his own life, and showed how sub- 
missive he could be to the Holy See, when to 

4 Herb. p. 525. Reginald was made Archbishop of Canter- 
bury in 1 191, and died on Christmas day of that year. 
Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 215. 

442 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

be SO furthered his interests, and did not interfere 
with his passions. "The realm of England is in 
your jurisdiction," he writes^ to Pope Alexander; 
" and I am bound to you alone by feudal obli- 
gation : let England now experience what the 
Pope can do ; and since he does not use the arm 
of flesh, let him defend the patrimony of Blessed 
Peter with the sword of the Spirit." 

The young King threw himself into the arms of 
Louis of France and Philip Count of Flanders, 
so that his father had enough to do in defending 
his Norman dominions. Whilst thus engaged, 
William, the King of Scotland, invaded England,^ 
successfully besieged Carlisle, and devastated all 
the North. Many of the powerful barons had 
declared for the young Henry, who, with the 
Earl of Flanders, was waiting only for a fair 
wind to invade England in force. Richard'* of 
Ilchester, the new Bishop of Winchester, was 
sent over to the King at Bonneville, on St. John's 
day, 1174, to request his return; and so many 
messengers had preceded him, that the Normans 
said, when they saw him, " The next thing the 
English will send, will be the Tower of London." 

King Henry immediately embarked, with his 
Queen, Eleanor his son's Queen, Margaret, and 

6 Op. Petri Blesensis, Mogunt. 1600, p. 245, ep. 136. In the 
Vatican Library, MS. 5221, f. 79. A copy of this valuable 
letter, supposed to be in Father Parsons' handwriting, on the 
fly-leaf of the copy of Fo.k's Book of Martyrs, used by that 
venerable missionary, is preserved in the library of the English 
College, Rome, of which that Father was once Rector. 

7 Hoved. f. 30S. 

8 Diceto, p. 57G. 

II7I— II74] PENANCE. 443 

his son John, and his daughter Jane. The wind 
was very high ; and the King openly prayed that, 
if his arrival in England would promote peace, 
both in the clerg}-' and people, and only in that 
case, his voyage might be prosperous. He landed 
at Southampton on Monday, the 8th of July ; and 
neglecting public business altogether, though it 
was in so critical a state, he began his pilgrimage 
to St. Thomas. He fasted strictly upon bread 
and water ; and avoiding the towns, but visiting 
chapels and hospitals, he made the best of his 
way with all speed to Canterbury. On the 
Friday following,^ he came in sight of the city, 
at St. Nicholas's Chapel, Harbledown, about two 
miles from Canterbury. He then leapt off his 
horse, and went the rest of the way on foot. 
From St. Dunstan's Church, outside the city, to 
the tomb of the holy Martyr, he walked barefoot, 
and dressed in the common woollen garments of a 
pilgrim. His footsteps along the streets were 
marked with the blood which flowed freely from 
his feet. He went to the church-porch ; ^° and after 
praying there, he visited the scene of the martyr- 
dom, which he watered with his tears. Having 
said his Confiteor before the Bishops who were 
present, he went with much reverence to the tomb, 
where he remained in prayer a very long time. 
The Bishop of London, after a while, spoke to 
all who were present in the King's name, saying, 
that he knew that his angry expressions had been 
made the occasion of the death of the Martyr, 
though he never intended them to be so ; and 
9 Gerv. p. 248. 10 Grim, p. 445. 

444 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

that he also felt that he had been very wrong 
in his persecution of him during his life ; and 
that he had therefore come to make full satis- 
faction. He begged their prayers, and trusted 
that his humble penance would be acceptable to 
God and St. Thomas. He that day restored in 
full all the dignities and rights of that church, 
and whatever, either in that or other lands, in 
past times the church had freely held. He made 
an offering of four marks of pure gold, and a silk 
frontal for the shrine, and he offered a revenue 
of forty pounds as a gift to the Martyr, for lights 
to be kept burning at the tomb. He also 
promised to build a monastery in honour of 
St. Thomas. When the Bishop had finished 
saying what it must have been a great humilia- 
tion for Gilbert Foliot to utter," the King ratified 
and confirmed it all. 

His shoulders were then bared, and having 
bent his head down to one of the openings of 
the tomb, he received five strokes from each of 
the Prelates present, and then three from each of 
the monks, who exceeded the number of eighty. 
When this was over, and he had been absolved, 

II Gilbert Foliot granted an Indulgence of twenty daj-s, and 
a participation in all the prayers and merits of his Church, to 
such as should assist in building " the Hospital at Southwark, 
in London, in honour of God and of the Blessed Martyr 
Thomas" (Ep. Gilb. Pol. i. p. 318). And he calls him "Saint 
Thomas" in a deed in favour of Lady Cecilia Talbot (Ep. Gilb. 
Fol. ii. p, 50). More curious still, when Foliot was in extreme 
sickness, his friend Jocelin Bishop of Salisbury gave him some 
of the blood of St. Thomas and vowed in his name a pilgrimage 
to Canterbury on his recovery, which vow Gilbert soon after 
fulfilled, in very penitent guise (Benedict, p. 251). 

II7I— II74] PENANCE. 445 

he remained there on the bare ground for the 
whole night in watching and prayer, not suffer- 
ing a carpet to be brought for him, nor even water 
to wash his bleeding and muddy feet. 

This night a sister of St. Thomas appears in 
our history, almost for the first time. During 
the days of his worldly greatness we never hear 
of his relations, nor, if it had not been for his 
troubles, should we have known that he had any 
so nearly akin to him. Among those who were 
exiled for his sake, were his sister and her 
children ; for the Pope thanked the monastery of 
Clairmarais for the hospitality they had received : ^- 
and St. Thomas wrote to his friends, Fulk, Dean 
of Rheims, Richard, Archbishop-elect of Syracuse, 
and Stephen, the Chancellor of Sicily, in behalf 
of his sister's sons.'^ ^^d the Pope wrote a letter 
dated October 23, 1168, to the Archbishop-elect 
of Sens, asking him to give to Gilbert, one of 
the Saint's nephews who was going to study at 
Bologna, the assistance he had already given to 
Geoffrey, another nephew.'^ And now Rohesia,^^ 
a sister of the Saint, probably still with the 
sentence of banishment unrevoked, certainly in 
poverty, comes to beg " mercy" of the King, who 
was praying to her brother. He made a grant 
to her of a mill, the rent of which was ten marks 
a year, and which was enjoyed by her son John 
after her. The Saint had another sister named 
Mary,'^ of whom all that we know is, that she 

12 Materials, v. p. 242. 13 Ep. S. Tho. i. pp. 245, 321, 395. 

14 Materials, vi. p. 4S5. 15 Garnier, 81, 3. 

le Matth. Paris, p. 126. 

44(3 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

was a nun, and that after the martyrdom she 
was Abbess of Barking. 

After Matins and Lauds, King Henry visited 
the altars of the upper church, and the rehcs of 
the saints there buried. He then returned to the 
crypt, to the tomb of St. Thomas. As soon as 
it was hght on the Saturday, he asked for Mass ; 
and having assisted at it, as well as having tasted 
some water in which a drop of the Martyr's 
blood had been diluted, he returned to London, 
with''' one of the phials of the same, which had 
already become'*^ the mark of the pilgrim to St. 
Thomas, as the palm was of the pilgrimage to 
Jerusalem, and the scallop to St. James at Com- 

The news soon came, that his son Henry, with 
the Count of Flanders, had abandoned their inten- 
tion of invading England, when they found that 
the King was returning. Freed from this danger,'^ 
he had sent his forces against Earl Hugh Bigod, 
who had joined the insurrection at Norwich. He 
himself was detained, after his arrival from Can- 
terbury, for a few daj^s in London by sickness; 
when one midnight there was heard a violent 
knocking at the gate of the King's palace. In 
spite of the refusal of the porter to admit him, 
the messenger insisted, saying that he was the 
bearer of good news, which the King must hear 
that very night. At length, by his importunity, 
he gained admission into the King's very chamber. 

17 " Signum peregrinationis asportans" (Will. Cant. p. 489). 

18 Materials, iv. p. 142; Bened. p. 42; Gerv. p. 249. 

19 Will. Neubrig. Tier. Anglic. Antverp. 15C7, p. 196. 

II7I— II74] PENANCE. 447 

Going up to the bed, he aroused the royal sleeper, 
who demanded, "Who are you?" "I am the 
boy of your faithful Ranulf de Glanville," was 
the answer ; " and he has sent me to your High- 
ness with good news," "Is our Ranulf well?" 
asked the King. " My lord is well," he replied ; 
" and he has taken prisoner your enemy the King 
of the Scots at Richmond." The King was 
stupefied by the news, and said, "Tell me again." 
After hearing the same report, he said, " Have 
you any letters ? " On these being presented, the 
King glanced at them ; and leaping from the bed, 
with his eyes wet with tears, gave thanks to God 
and St. Thomas. On the very Saturday^" on 
which the King left Canterbury, and at the hour 
at which he was hearing Mass at the tomb of 
St. Thomas, Alnwick Castle had been taken, and 
the King of Scotland made prisoner. Within 
three weeks of the pilgrimage and penance of the 
King, all the rebellions were quelled, and peace 
was restored^' throughout England. 

The King had made his pilgrimage in conse- 
quence of a dream,-^ that he had no other way of 
obtaining peace but by a reconciliation with the 
holy Martyr. St. Thomas had himself had a 
vision on the subject, which he had thus related 
to Herbert of Bosham^^ during their exile. "I 
thought I stood," said the Saint, " on a very high 
mountain, and the King was in the plain beneath; 
when on a sudden I saw flying towards him all 
manner of birds of prey, which with their beaks 

20 So the King himself told Herbert of Bosham, p. 547. 
21 Gerv. p. 249. 23 Grim, p. 445. 23 Herb. p. 548. 

448 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

and talons attacked him violently, and tore his 
royal robes off him, leaving him half-stripped. 
There was a dark precipice behind him which he 
did not see, and towards which he was approach- 
ing as he was driven backwards by the onset of 
the birds of prey. When he was in this strait, 
one of the courtiers, whom the King had trusted, 
and advanced to high places, turned his hand 
against him, tried to tear from him the rags the 
birds had spared, and to urge him over the pre- 
cipice. The thought then came over me of all 
our old friendship; and coming down from my 
high mountain-top, as it seemed to me, in the 
twinkling of an eye, his peril and my compassion 
giving me wings, I was by his side. I had, I 
know not how, a lance in my hand, and I 
scattered the birds of prey ; and clad the King 
in his royal robes once more, chiding the while 
the courtier who had shown such ingratitude, 
saying that of him, at least, the King had not 
merited such treatment." St. Thomas told the 
name of the courtier ; but Herbert did not 
publish it, as he was still alive when he wrote. 
The Saint's brief commentary on his vision was, 
that he yet should help Henry in some of his 
troubles. When Herbert related this story to 
the King in after years, he was very urgent to 
know the name of the courtier ; but Herbert 
refused to tell him. 

In another private conversation Herbert,-^ with 
his characteristic boldness, told him that the 
death of his sainted master was " for him and 

24 Herb. p. 542. 

1 179] PENANCE. 449 

by him." The King" quietly rephed, without any 
signs of anger, " Your for I sorrowfully grant, 
but your by I boldly deny." We say, with 
Herbert, that on this matter " God, and God 
only, knows the truth." We now part from a 
King, whose passions were so ungovernable and 
produced such frightful effects, whose deliberate 
policy was the servitude of the Church, and whose 
penances were so striking and at the time prob- 
ably sincere, though it is to be feared that his 
amendment was never of long duration. 

A few years later, another royal pilgrim came to 
the tomb of St. Thomas ; but without the feelings 
of remorse which had made the visit we have 
last related so penitential. In 11 79, Philip,^^ the 
son of Louis VII. of France, then fifteen years old, 
fell ill, and a vision admonished the father that 
by the prayers of St. Thomas he should recover. 
He accordingly undertook this pilgrimage on his 
son's behalf, in spite of the danger of placing 
himself in the power of the King of England, 
with w^hom he was constantly at variance. On 
Wednesday, the 22nd of August, he landed at 
Dover, where he was met by Henry, w^ho accom- 
panied him to Canterbury. They travelled on 
horseback by night, in the course of which journey 
they witnessed an eclipse of the moon. They 
were received by the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
and a large assembly of prelates and clergy, with 
much honour ; and the French monarch spent a 
night at the tomb of the Saint, where he made 
an offering of a magnificent chalice of gold, and 
25 Hoved. f. 338 ; Diceto, p. 605 ; Gerv. p. 1467. 

450 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

a hundred measures of wine, to be delivered 
annually cost free. Before leaving, he petitioned 
the Chapter to be admitted into their fraternity ; 
and he carried away with him the patent which 
conferred upon him what he had asked. On his 
return to France, on the following Sunday, he 
found that his son Philip had perfectly recovered. 
Before we return to the sacred relics of St. 
Thomas, we must relate in a few words the little 
that we know of what happened to his faithful com- 
panions. John of Salisbury, whom St. Thomas 
had found in the service of the church of Canter- 
bury, having been recommended to Archbishop 
Theobald by the glorious St. Bernard,'^ and who 
had been the Saint's counsellor and friend in 
good report and evil report, at home and in exile, 
in life and in death, was elected Bishop in 1176 
by the Chapter of Chartres, through their devo- 
tion to St. Thomas. On the 22nd of July,^'' the 
dean, precentor, and several of the clergy, came 
to Canterbury to announce their choice ; and the 
Bishop-elect was conducted to the altar of the 
church in which he had seen his master die, for 
the Te Dcum to be sung for joy. King Louis 
wrote -^ to beg his acquiescence, and to say that 
the Archbishop of Sens was as anxious as himself. 

26 Ep. ccclxxxiii. ed. Horst. 

27 He had written his very elegant Life of St. Thomas before 
this time; for Peter of Blois, Archdeacon of Bath, after con- 
gratulating him on being made Bishop, says, that by the Arch- 
bishop's orders he would certainly himself have written the 
Saint's life, if it had not been already so beautifully done by 
John of Salisbury (Pet. Bles. ep. 114, p. 204). 

28 Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p, 291. 

II76— iiSo] PENANCE. 45I 

The devotion of John of SaHsbury to St. Thomas 
was shown by his prefixing to every act of his 
episcopate, and to every letter he wrote, his title 
as, "John, by the Divine condescension and the 
merits of St. Thomas, humble minister of the 
church of Chartres." He died on the 25th of 
October, 1180. 

Herbert of Bosham had been sent by St. 
Thomas to King Louis and the Archbishop of 
Sens, and he had left him on the Sunday night 
before his martyrdom. He remained abroad, 
when he heard of what had happened, for some 
time. To his pen is attributed the letter-^ which 
the Archbishop of Sens wrote to the Pope, to 
pray that the King might be punished as the 
cause of the Martyr's death. He wrote to Pope 
Alexander himself some time afterwards, to com- 
plain that an oath was required of him, before 
he could return to England, to the effect that he 
would not leave the realm without the King's 
licence, nor send letters beyond the sea ; which 
oath, he said, John of Salisbury and Gunter had 
taken, but his conscience would not permit him 
to take. The Pope wrote him a very kind letter 
in reply, recommending him to the intercession 
of the Legates with the King, and calling him " a 
special and devout son of the Church." After 
his return to England, and after the interviews 
with the King which we have mentioned, in which 
it is plain that he was quite restored to favour, 
he lived a long time, occupying himself in writing 
the life of St. Thomas, which was not finished 
-9 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p 160. 

452 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 33 

until the Pontificate of Pope Urban III., fifteen 
years after the Saint's martyrdom. He com- 
plains sadly of the neglect he suffered at the 
hands of the Bishops, who, he says, "worship 
the Saint's dead relics, but despise his living 
ones." He says, that the Saint once appeared 
to him, and told him that the verse of the Psalms 
which he must ever bear in mind was, " Redeem 
me from the calumnies of men, that I may keep 
Thy commandments." Though the year of his 
death is unknown, we know the day on which it 
occurred ; for his obit v*'as kept on the 22nd of 
November, by the Christ Church monks, who 
had given him the privilege of fraternity with 
their Order, and therefore a share in their 
prayers.^" By a curious mistake, he has been 
confounded by many writers with Lombard 
of Piacenza, who was Cardinal Archbishop of 
Benevento, so that he appears in some of the 
catalogues of English Cardinals. The author 
of this mistake is Christian Wolf, commonly 
called Lupus, who published in 1682 the Life^' 
and Correspondence of St. Thomas from the 
Vatican MS., which Cardinal Baronius had used. 
There are very few others of those who were 
with St. Thomas of whom there is anything to 
tell. Those only received promotion who had 
not been remarkable for their zeal in the cause 
of the Saint. Excepting, indeed, his faithful 
crossbearer, Alexander Llewellyn, who was, with 

30 10 Kal. Dec. Obiit Magistn- Hcn-bcitus de Boscham.frater Jioster. 
Necrology of Christ Church, Dart's Canterbury, App. p. xxxiii. 

31 EpistoliS ct V'iLi S. Tlioiuj:, two vols. 4to, Brux. 1G82 ; i. 
pp. 157, 1C2. 

iiyi— II74] PENANCE. 453 

Herbert, the bearer of his last letter to the Pope. 
He seems to have become Archdeacon of Bangor, 
and this we learn from Giraldus Cambrensis, his 
fellow-countryman, who would probably have had 
better opportunities of knowing of this promotion 
than Herbert, whose intercourse with Alexander 
probably ended when the tie that bound them in 
their master's service was broken.^^ 

Gerard Pucelle, who, though a friend of St. 
Thomas, had been dangerously near schism in 
the beginning of the exile, and who accepted the 
King's terms before its close, was made Bishop 
of Coventry. Hugh de Nunant, Archdeacon of 
Lisieux, who appeared in the Saint's train at 
Northampton, but who was one of the King's 
ambassadors to the Pope after the martyrdom, 
was the successor of Gerard Pucelle in that see. 
Gilbert de Glanville became Bishop of Rochester 
after the death of Walter, Archbishop Theobald's 
brother. He was sent by the holy Martyr to the 
Pope with his last letter ; but he had been a very 
short time in his service. It is worthy of remark, 
that John of Salisbury is the only one of the 
Saint's prominent adherents who became a 
Bishop, and that his see was in France, in the 
very province of Sens in which they had spent 
their exile. 

32 Giraldus, De Instntctione Principum. Anglia Christiana 
Society, 1846, ed. Brewer, p. 186. 



1170 - 11S5. 

The first miracle — Prior Odo's report : cures of William de 
Capella, William Belet, Huelina of London, Brithiva of 
Canterbury, William of London, an anchoret, a boy of fifteen 
— appearances of the Saint — Benedict's vision — story of the 
Patriarch of Jerusalem — Edward Grim's arm — John of Salis- 
bury's account — St. Edmund and St. Thomas — Cure at 

The rapidity with which miracles followed upon 
the martyrdom is as remarkable as their number. 
The first' was the case of a paralytic woman in 
Canterbury. Her husband was present at the 
martyrdom, and brought home, as all the faithful 
did that night, some linen dipped in the holy 
blood. When she had heard his account of the 
constancy of the martyr, and saw the stain of his 
blood, she was moved with so lively a faith, that 
she begged it might be washed, that water might 
be given her to drink in which it had been dipped. 
This was done ; and she was immediately cured. 
The fame of this miraculous cure caused every 
one who came to set the highest value on the 
possession of some of the martyr's blood mingled 
with water. According to Fitzstephen, it was 
this that gave rise to the little leaden phials which 

I Fitzstephen, p. 149. This miracle is not mentioned by 
William or Benedict. 

iiyo] MIRACLES. 455 

have been already mentioned as the distinguishing 
mark of a Canterbur}- pilgrim. 

Odo the Prior sent Phihp Count of Flanders a 
report- of some of the miracles. The following 
sentence occurs in his letter, which certainly 
renders his testimony very trustworthy: "It is 
said that some lepers also have been healed ; but 
I do not say so, because I have not seen them 
since they left us ; though some have told me 
that they were much better as they were going 
away." He says that, on the third day after the 
martyrdom, that is, the Thursday in that week, 
December 31, 1170, Emma, the wife of Robert 
of St. Andrew, a soldier in Sussex, who was sick 
and blind, when she heard the account of the 
martyrdom, invoked the Saint ; and before half 
an hour had passed, she had received her sight, 
and in a few days was perfectly well. This is 
also told by Grim and Benedict. 

On Friday night, a priest of London, named 
William de Capella, who had lost his speech, 
was warned that he should go to the tomb of 
St. Thomas, and he should be there healed by a 
drop of the martyr's blood. He did so, and was 
cured accordingly. As speaking in favour of 
St. Thomas had been publicly prohibited, even 
by proclamation, probably by the De Brocs, this 
priest was very cautious in mentioning his cure. 

William Belet, a soldier, of Ainesburne in 
Berkshire, was suffering from an arm and hand 
which were enormously swelled. On the Sun- 
day after the martyrdom, as soon as he heard 
2 Martene, Vet. Scriptor. Paris, 1724, i. p. 8S2 b. 

456 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 34 

what had happened, he immediately invoked the 
Saint, praying that he might be restored to 
health. The following night he slept soundly, 
which he had not done for some time before ; 
and when he woke he was perfectly well, without 
any pain, the swelling having disappeared. 

On the Saturda}', Huelina the daughter of 
Aaliza of London, a child of sixteen, was cured 
of a disease in the head that she had had since 
she was five years old. This was at Gloucester, 
and the cure happened on the day on which the 
news of the martyrdom became known there, the 
mother of the child making a vow in her child's 
name to visit the tomb of the Saint. 

On Monday, the 4th of January, a poor blind 
woman of Canterbury, named Brithiva, entered 
a neighbouring hospice and asked for some thing 
that had belonged to the martyr. A cloth was 
given her that was red with his blood. She 
applied it to her eyes and received her sight. 

On the following day William, a priest of 
London, who had been rendered speechless by 
paralysis on St. Stephen's day, was warned to go 
to Canterbury, and that there he would be cured 
by a drop of the martyr's blood. On the octave 
day of the martyrdom he came, and obtained 
leave to spend the night in pra}-er at the tomb. 
A drop of the blood was given him, and some 
water to drink which was sanctified by a slight 
admixture of the mart}r's blood. The priest was 
cured of his paralysis, and this is said by Bene- 
dict to be the beginning of the use of water thus 

1I7I] MIRACLES. 457 

A pious woman 3 who lived an anchoretical life, 
who had never learnt to read or write, and who 
knew no Latin, except some Psalms, the Pater 
nostcr, and the Credo, was very sorrowful day and 
night on account of the martyrdom which had 
just happened. Sometimes she was favoured 
with ecstasies ; and one day she sent to the 
monks of Canterbury a paper on which were 
written these words, which, she said, a very 
beautiful lady had spoken to her : Noli flere pro 
Archiepiscopo : caput ejus in gremio Filii mei requi- 
escit. " Weep not for the Archbishop ; his head 
rests in the bosom of my Son." 

A boy of fifteen years of age, who had been 
blind from his birth, received his sight at the 
tomb of the Saint. This is related by the Prior 
Odo, w^ho thus concludes his letter : " There are 
others who were blind, deaf, dumb, lame, con- 
tracted, and suffering from other infirmities, who 
have been cured by the merits of St. Thomas, 
but which I cannot now touch upon, however 
briefly. The number of those who have been 
cured of fevers is without end." 

The Saint appeared to some persons, with the 
faint graceful line of blood from his right temple 
across the nose to the left cheek ; and those who 
thus saw him described this mark as accurately 
as if they had seen his body. To others he 
appeared showing them that he was alive, and 
that his wounds had left but scars. This must 
have happened very soon, for it is mentioned in 
the letter of the Archbishop of Sens to the Pope. 

3 Fitzstephen, p. 151. 

458 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 34 

On the night of the martyrdom, one of the 
Saint's household saw him in his pontifical vest- 
ments going up the altar-steps, as if to say Mass ; 
seeing the same thing on the second and on the 
third night, he said to him, " My lord, art thou 
not dead ? " The Saint answered, " I died ; but 
I am alive." Then said he, " If thou art truly 
alive and among the martyrs, why dost thou not 
show thyself to the world ? " The Saint replied, 
" I carry a light ; but it is not seen for the cloud 
which is interposed." 

The De Broc family made every effort in the 
beginning to check the honour which was paid to 
St. Thomas ; so that these accounts were whis- 
pered in secret. But the fame of cures and other 
miracles increased so fast, and the concourse of 
people became so great, that they were obliged 
to give up the vain attempt of checking the devo- 
tion, and were forced to say, "All England is 
gone after him," When the doors of the crypt, 
which had been fastened v»hen he was first buried, 
were opened at Easter, miracles increased so fast, 
that two volumes'^ containing the account of them 
were kept at Canterbury. One of these was com- 
piled by Benedict, who was afterwards Prior of 
Christ Church, and ultimately Abbot of Peter- 
borough, whose contribution to our knowledge of 
the martyrdom is particularly valuable. Benedict 
was succeeded, as Chronicler of the miracles, by 
William, like himself a monk of Canterbury. 
The collection made b}- him is an independent 
work, though in some instances he and Benedict 

4 Gerv. p. 230. 

iiyi] MIRACLES. 459 

both relate the same miracle. William's work, 
like Benedict's, grew as time went on, for Bene- 
dict's v/as at last divided into five books, and 
William's into six. William also wrote a life 
and passion of St. Thomas, much fuller than 
Benedict's, we may safely say, though of the 
latter we have only fragments remaining. 

The King had entertained ^ a great indignation 
against Benedict before he was made Prior. 
When in that office, he was obliged to go to him 
on some of the affairs of the Church ; but his 
threats made him fear to go into his presence. 
One night, after a day when Benedict had been 
insulted by the King and his officials, his Majesty 
had a dream, which produced such an effect upon 
him, that he declared that he would not for any 
sum of money suffer the agony of such a dream 
again. He dreamt that he was crossing a very 
high bridge over a deep and rapid stream, when 
the plank on which his foot was gave way, and 
he fell through the bridge, to which he clung with 
desperation. The place, he thought, was lonely, 
and his strength was fast failing him ; when, 
thinking all human assistance hopeless, he in- 
voked the sacred names of Jesus and Mary and 
his patron saints. Then he thought that he 
added, " Help me, O Martyr of Christ ; St. 
Thomas, assist me. Do not remember the in- 
juries of late ; for in the beginning I loved you 
above every one." He had hardly ended the 
words, when he imagined that Benedict came to 
him, and said, "The holy Archbishop, whom you 
5 Grim, p. 448. 

460 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 34 

have invoked in faith, has sent me to you ;" and 
so saying, he rescued him. The King awoke; 
but he could sleep no more ; and his dream had 
so shaken him, that it was past midday before he 
could rise. When the Prior came, Henry told 
him his dream ; and he returned as hearty thanks 
to St. Thomas as if he had been really preserved 
from that death. The narrator says that, though 
it was but a dream, it had this reality about it, 
that the King received Benedict into favour, and 
gave him whatever he chose to ask. 

On the 28th of January, 1185, Heraclius, the 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, visited Canterbury. While 
in England he told the following story to Herbert 
of Bosham, who has related it,^ and who must 
have written it almost as soon as it was told 
him : A monk of a religious house in Palestine, 
who had lived a most holy life, was near his end 
on the day on which St. Thomas was martyred. 
His singular piety had endeared him to his Supe- 
rior, who begged of him, with tears, that, if God 
permitted it, he would appear to him after death, 
and tell him of his state. The monk assented, 
and so died. A few days afterwards, in fulfilment 
of his promise, the Brother appeared to his 
Abbot, to tell him that he saw God, and that his 
soul was in Heaven. "And that you may be 
certain and have no doubt, know that, as soon 
as I left the body, I was borne up by angels and 
saw the Lord ; when soon there came a great 
and eminent man with a procession, beyond ex- 
pression wonderful, following him, surrounding 

C Herb. p. 514. 

Ii85] MIRACLES. 461 

him, and leading him, such that no man could 
number it for the multitude of the Angels, the 
laudable number of Patriarchs and Prophets, the 
glorious choir of the Apostles, with the countless 
army of Martyrs in their purple, and Confessors 
in white. He stood before the Lord like a 
martyr, with his head all torn and the blood 
trickling, as it seemed, through the wounds. And 
the Lord said to him, ' Thomas, thus oughtest 
thou to enter the court of thy Lord. The glory 
that I have given to Peter, the same will I give 
to thee.' And the Lord took a golden crown, 
of wonderful size, and placed it on the torn and 
wounded head. Know, then, for certain, that 
Thomas, the great Bishop of Canterbury, has 
died in these days, and so is gone to God. 
Meanwhile note what I have told you, and mark 
the time ; for before long the reports of those 
who come hither will prove these things to be 
true. And now, since I have told you of the 
death of this glorious Martyr which has taken 
place, henceforward you must not doubt of my 
salvation." The Abbot told every one what he 
had heard ; and Heraclius affirmed to Herbert 
and to others, that he consequently knew of the 
martyrdom within a fortnight after it had hap- 
pened, and that it was generally known through- 
out that country. 

Edward Grim gives the following interesting 
account-' of a miracle which the Saint wrought in 

7 From a MS. in the Bibliotheca Casanatense at the Domi- 
nican Convent of S. Maria sopra Minerva in Rome (Hb. A. i. 21). 
It is a complete copy of the paper, of which a part has been 
pubHshed by Martene (Thes. Nov. Anecd. iii. p. 1737). 

462 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 34 

his behalf. It is the heahng of the arm that was 
broken by William de Tracy, when Grim held it 
up to ward off the first blow from the head of 
the MartNT, who did not lift a hand in his own 
defence. The doctor had tried in vain for nearly 
a year to set the broken bone ; when one night 
the venerable Martyr stood beside him, and, 
taking hold of his arm, wrapped it in a wet linen 
cloth, saying, " Go ; you are healed." The cloth 
was wetted with holy water and the Martyr's 
blood, and, by the favour of God and St. Thomas, 
the bones united and the arm healed. " A proof 
of its healing," says Grim, "is the arm itself, the 
hand of which has written these things for you 
to read. And God has done many other things," 
he continues, " to prove His love for our blessed 
Martyr : by cleansing the lepers, as we have our- 
selves seen ; by putting devils to flight, by healing 
the dropsical, the paralytic, the deaf, the dumb, 
the blind, the lame, and those suffering from all 
manner of sickness : in all of which things we are 
awaiting the faithful testimony of the church of 
Canterbury, in whose sight and knowledge all 
these things are known to have been done." 

John of Salisbury writes to the Bishop of 
Poitiers to ask him whether he thought that they 
could not, even before his canonization by the 
Pope, treat him as a martyr in the Mass and 
public prayers ; or whether they ought to con- 
tinue to pray for one whom God had honoured 
by so many miracles : " For in the spot where 
he suffered, and by the high altar where he was 
placed before his burial, and at his tomb, para- 

1 176— 1 179] MIRACLES. 463 

lytics are cured, the blind see, the deaf hear, the 
dumb speak, the lame walk, fevers are healed, 
men possessed by the devil are liberated, the sick 
of divers diseases are cured, those whom the devil 
makes to blaspheme are confounded." The monks 
of Canterbury could each day say, as one of them 
asserts, " We have seen wonderful things to-day." 

From the vast number of accounts which might 
be here introduced, we have selected one or two 
others^ on account of their connection with his 
successor St. Edmund. The Abbess of Lacoke 
was very ill of a fever. St. Edmund left her, 
after a visit, saying that he would send her a 
doctor who should cure her. He sent some relic 
of the blood of St. Thomas, and as soon as she 
had tasted it she recovered. 

One day, before leaving England, St. Edmund 
saw St. Thomas in a vision ; and, stooping down, 
he tried to kiss his feet. St. Thomas prevented 
him, drawing his foot away. When St. Edmund 
wept at this, St. Thomas said to him, *' Why do 
you weep ? " He answered, " Because my lips 
are not worthy to touch your feet." Then said 
St. Thomas, " Weep not, for the time is coming 
when you shall kiss me on the face." 

Another miracle, of which John of Salisbury 
when Bishop of Chartres was witness, must not 
be omitted. It is reported in a hitherto unpub- 
lished^ letter by the Bishop, which is addressed 

8 Martene, Thes. Nov. Anccd. iii. pp. 1798, 1812. 

9 MS. Coll. Angl. Rom. fol. 40. This must have been between 
1 176, when John of Salisbury was made Bishop, and 1179, 
when, according to Gervase, Herlewin ceased to be Prior of 

464 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 34 

to Richard the Archbishop, Herlewin the Prior, 
Herbert the Archdeacon, and to the chapter, 
clergy, and people of Canterbury. Peter, a native 
of Chartres, and a servant of Count Theobald's, 
professed a disbelief in the sanctity and miracles 
of St. Thomas. One day he was at work cutting 
stones for St. Peter's monastery at Chartres, 
when, as he and his fellow-workmen were resting, 
the conversation turned upon St. Thomas. All 
spoke of the Saint with reverence but this man, 
who took a morsel of bread in his hand, and said, 
" Now, if St. Thomas can, let him choke me with 
this, or make it poison to me." The others beat 
their breasts, and made signs of the Cross in 
horror of the blasphemy. The poor man soon 
left them, and went home, stricken dumb. The 
neighbours flocked in when they heard of what 
had happened ; and, as he got rapidly worse and 
worse, they carried him, now half dead, into the 
Church of the Blessed Virgin, and laid him on 
the tomb of St. Leobin.'° The report soon 
spread ; and from nine o'clock till Vespers the 
church w'as crowded. The Bishop, who tells the 
story, happened to be out of town ; but coming 
in in the evening, the poor man's mother and 
friends ran and, kneeling before him, begged his 
help and counsel. He went straight to the 
church, and there found the dumb man beating 
his breast and lifting up his hands and eyes to 
Heaven. The Bishop had taken some of the 
blood of St. Thomas with him to Chartres. He 

10 St. Leobin, Bishop of Chartres, whose feast, in the Roman 
Martyrology, is September 15. 

1 176— 1 179] MIRACLES. 465 

now sent for it and some water. After praying 
before the relics, the Bishop gave him the reh- 
quary to kiss, on which the man burst forth in 
a foud voice with the words, " St. Thomas, 
St. Thomas, have mercy on me ! " He then 
drank some water in which the rehquary and a 
knifo of the Saint had been washed by the Bishop, 
when, on being quite restored, he vowed a pil- 
grimage to St. Thomas in penance for his blas- 
phemy, and in thanksgiving for his cure. He 
was himself the bearer of John of Salisbury's 
letter relating these facts. 

Not a single one of the stories in this chapter 
has been taken from either Benedict's book or 
William's, and there the matter is sufficient, not 
for another chapter merely, but for a volume. 
The narratives are interesting for the insight they 
give us into the manner of life and the spirit of 
devotion of the English people of those times. 
In this place we will refer but to one detail, as it 
shows us a common practice in the manner in 
which those who stood in need of St. Thomas's 
help, had recourse to him. There is frequent men- 
tion of the body or the affected part being mea- 
sured, sometimes to offer an effigy or a silver thread 
of the length at the shrine, more commonly for 
the measure of a candle to be burnt there. The 
practice was so well understood, that a girl in 
danger is described as calling out, " Measure me 
to St. Thomas, measure me to St. Thomas,"" 
meaning that a candle of that size was to be 
offered for her. 

II Benedict, p. 265. 



1 173, 1220, 1538. 

Canonization of St. Thomas — the Bull — Council of Bishops — 
Choir of Canterbury burnt and rebuilt — Translation of 
St. Thomas — Cardinal Langton's sermon — the Quadrilogue — 
the altar at the sword's point — the tomb — the Crown of 
St. Thomas — the shrine — its description — its destruction — 
St. Thomas tried by Henry VIII.— Bull of Paul III.— 
Patronage of St. Thomas. 

The Pope deputed the Cardinals Albert and 
Theodwin to examine the miracles, and to make 
a report to him with a view to the Saint's canoni- 
sation. They could not have been very long in 
accumulating materials; for in their letter^ to the 
chapter authorising the reconciliation of the 
Church before the first year was past, they say 
that " God has shown how precious the Saint's 
death was in His sight, and has illustrated his 
venerable memor}^ with so many miracles, that 
the odour of his unguents is now spread through 
the whole body of the Church, and his virtue is 
commonly preached both in the East and West." 
Accordingly, at Segni, on the 21st of February, 
being Ash Wednesday, 1173, having taken coun- 
sel with the Cardinals and Bishops, the Pope 
himself solemnly singing Mass, Alexander III. 

I Ep. Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 121. 


canonized St. Thomas of Canterbury as a martyr 
for the cause of the Church of God. 

The Bull- is remarkable for its praises of his 
life as well as of his martyrdom. "He who is 
glorious in His saints has glorified, after his 
death, this His Saint, whose laudable life, shining 
with great glory of merits, was at length con- 
summated by the martyrdom of a glorious contest. 
And although no one can doubt of his sanctity, 
who attends to his praiseworthy conduct, and 
considers his glorious passion ; yet our Saviour 
and Redeemer wished to give brilliant proofs of 
it by magnificent miracles, that so he, who has 
borne want and perils for Christ with the con- 
stancy of insuperable virtue, may now be known 
by all to have received the triumph of his labour 
and of his contest in eternal blessedness." It 
then relates how the Cardinal Legates had taken 
accurate information, and had sent the report of 
" numberless and great miracles." After an- 
nouncing the canonization, the Bull orders the 
festival of St. Thomas to be observed throughout 
the world. This was sent to the Legates,^ toge- 
ther with apostolic letters-* to the chapter of 

2 Redolct Aiiglia, dated Segni, March 12, 1173. The Bull is in 
the Roman BuUarium. A copy was addressed to the clergy and 
people of England (Ep. St. Tho. ii. p. 75). St. Thomas was thus 
canonized two years and three months after his death. We have 
amongst the English Saints examples of canonizations performed 
in the shortest and in the longest time after death. St. Edmund 
of Canterbury was canonized within a year, and St. Osmund of 
Salisbury was canonized after four hundred and seven years 
{Bened. X1.V- De Canon. SS. lib. ii. cap. liv. n. 7). 

3 Ep. Gilb. Pol. ii. p. 58. 

4 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 39. 

468 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

Canterbury, which thus begin : " The whole body 
of the faithful must rejoice at the wonders of that 
holy and reverend man, Thomas your Archbishop; 
but you must be filled with a fuller joy and exul- 
tation, since 3'ou often with your own eyes look 
upon his miracles, and your church has deserved 
to be rendered illustrious by the possession of 
his most holy body."' The Pope also bids them, 
on some fitting day, with a solemn procession 
and concourse of clergy and people, place his 
relics on the altar or in some fitting shrine, "and 
try to gain by pious prayers his patronage with 
God for the salvation of the faithful, and the 
peace of the Universal Church." There is also 
extant a letter ^ from Pope x\lexander to the Bishop 
of Aversa, in the kingdom of Naples, informing 
him of the canonization, which the Pope says 
had been done "after counsel taken with our 
brethren, and after many petitions from Arch- 
bishops and Bishops;"' and he bids him inform 
the Bishops of the province, that they were to 
observe the feast of the holy Martyr. 

St. Thomas was canonized before his see was 
filled ; and Bartholomew^ Bishop of Exeter, writes ** 
at once to thank the Pope for the canonization, 
and to recommend to him Richard, the Arch- 
bishop-elect. On the 7th of Juh'," in the council 
that was held at Westminster, in the chapel of 
St. Catherine, for the election, the Bull of Cano- 
nization was read, and then a solemn Tc Dcnm 

5 Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 88. 
C Ep. Jo. Sar. ii. p. 281. 
7 Matth. Paris, p. 88. 


was sung. The Bishops who had opposed him 
confessed their fault, and, in the name of them 
all, one Bishop sung the prayer, Adesto, Domine: 
" Hear, O Lord, our petitions ; that we, who of 
our iniquity acknowledge ourselves to be guilty, 
may be freed by the intercession of blessed 
Thomas, Thy Bishop and Martyr." 

On the 5th of September, 1174, the choir of 
Canterbury Cathedral was burnt, which had been 
built forty-four years previously by Prior Conrad 
in the time of St. Anselm. It was immediately 
rebuilt, and we are fortunate in having a minute 
description of the old choir as well as of the new 
from the pen of Gervase the chronicler, who was 
himself a monk of Christ Church. The architect 
first employed was William of Sens, and on his 
being disabled when he had built as far as the 
eastern transepts inclusively, he was succeeded 
by another William, an Englishman. To him 
we owe all that is east of the choir, that is to 
say, the chapel of the Blessed Trinity, with the 
beautiful apse that was called " the Crown of 
St. Thomas," and is still known as " Becket's 
Crown." The crypts beneath them he also built, 
the tomb where the body of St. Thomas lay 
being protected by woodwork. The new building 
extended considerably further eastward than the 
old. The site chosen for the shrine was the 
Saint's favourite chapel of the Blessed Trinity, 
so that it was immediately over the tomb in 
the crypt, or perhaps a few feet further to the 

The Priors of Christ Church, Benedict who 

470 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

recorded the martyrdom and miracles, and Alan^ 
who collected the correspondence, were very 
anxious to fulfil the Pope's injunction respecting 
the translation of the relics. Indeed, a letter of 
Alan's, written probably in 1185, on the com- 
pletion of the chapel and crown, proposes the 
following May for the solemnity. Several years 
however elapsed before it took place. 

By the year 1220 every preparation had been 
made. Cardinal Stephen Langton was Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, and he celebrated the 
translation with a worthy magnificence.^ The 
new shrine was a gorgeous work of gold and 
silver, set with precious stones, supported on 
stonework. Such a multitude of persons attended, 
that it was supposed that so many had never 
been collected in one place in England before. 
Two years previously the Cardinal Archbishop 
had published an edict, declaring his intention, 
and he had collected from all his manors and 
possessions all that was possible for the enter- 
tainment of such vast numbers of persons. The 
youthful Henry III. was present, with Pandulf 

y According to Gervase, Alan became Abbot of Tewkesbury 
in June, 1186. He had been a Canon of Benevento, though his 
novitiate was passed at Canterbury. 

9 " The expenses arising from this ceremony were so great to 
Stephen Langton, then Archbishop of Canterbury, that it left a 
debt upon this archbishopric which Boniface, his fourth suc- 
cessor, could hardly discharge. Besides other vast expenses of 
the sumptuous entertainment made in his palace, he provided at 
his own cost hay and oats, on the road between Canterbury and 
London, for the horses of all who came to the solemnity ; and 
he caused several pipes and conduits to run with wine in several 
parts of the city " (Hasted, Hist, of Canterbury, iSoi, ii. p. 337). 


the Legate, the Archbishop of Rheims, nearly all 
the Bishops of the realm, and some of France, 
in number twenty-three, as well as the abbots, 
priors, earls, and barons, besides the clergy and 
people. '° The summer time was doubtless chosen 
for the convenience of pilgrims, who would always 
wish to attend one of his festivals, and that of 
his martyrdom was in mid-winter. The 7th of 
July became thus the feast of his translation. 

In the sermon" made by Cardinal Langton, 
probably on a recurrence of this solemnity, he 
says, that they purposely selected a Tuesday,^^ as 
the day of the week on which the Saint had been 
martyred : they had not, however, adverted to 
the fact that it was the fiftieth year since that 
event ; and they were much struck by the coin- 
cidence that the translation of St. Thomas hap- 
pened on the anniversary of the day on which 
Henry II. was buried. A life of the Saint was 
compiled from his various biographers, which is 
now well known under the name of the Quadrilogue, 
probably for this occasion, and by the direction 

10 Matth. Paris, p. 214; Martene, Thes. Nov. Anccd. iii. p. 703. 

11 Vita S. Thoniix, ed. Lupus, p. 901. 

12 The Saint was born and baptized on a Tuesday ; on a 
Tuesday he left Northampton ; on a Tuesday he returned from 
Flanders for England, and on that day four weeks he was 
martyred {Mair/ials, iii. p. 326; iv. p. 78). Herbert further 
says that it was on a Tuesday that he fled from England, but 
in this, as we have seen (Supra, p. 194), he was mistaken. In 
consequence of the number of memorable Tuesdays in the 
Saint's life, that day of the week was chosen as the fitting day 
for a Votive Mass in his honour. This is noted in the Rubrics 
of the Sarum Missal, and it is often mentioned ; for instance, 
by the Black Prince in the foundation of his chantries (Stanley's 
Canterbury, 7th edit. p. 165). 

472 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

of Cardinal Langton. William, who was then Prior 
of Canterbury, published the letters'^ of Pope 
Honorius III. by which he granted an Indulgence 
of forty days to all who should be present at the 
Translation or within the Octave, and subse- 
quently another Indulgence, to be perpetually in 
force, of one year and forty daj'S, to all who 
should come to visit the church on the feast or 
within a fortnight after it. The same Pope had 
previously invited'-* all the faithful to attend, in 
proper dispositions, on the solemn occasion. He 
then said, " The heavenly King, the Lord of 
Angels, has honoured in our time the realm of 
England more highly than others, and He has 
adorned the English nation with an especial pre- 
rogative ; for while the world is in wickedness 
and the malice of men increasing, He has chosen 
from thence for Himself a man without spot, 
who priestlike, not only in a time of wrath was 
made a reconciliation, '^ but when invited to the 
heavenly banquet, merited to taste that chalice 
of passion which the Lord drank. Let, then, the 
happy church of Canterbury sing to the Lord a 
new song, the church whose altar the martyr 
Thomas has purpled with his precious blood." 

The shrine, to which the relics of St. Thomas 
were now translated, became a place of pilgrim- 
age, second only to the great sanctuaries of 
Rome, of Jerusalem, and perhaps of Compostella. 

13 Rymer, Fadcra, i. p. 154, dated Jan. 26, 1219; Ep. Gilb. Fol. 
ii. pp. 118, 171, dated Dec. 18, 1221. 

14 Gilb. Fol. ii. p. 116, dated Jan. 25, i2ig. 
35 Ecclus. xliv. 17. 


Multitudes of pilgrims all the year round thronged 
to Canterbury, and that more especially on the 
two festivals of the Saint, on the 29th of Decem- 
ber, the anniversary of his martyrdom, and, most 
of all, on the 7th of July, that of his translation. 
The jubilees of his death and of his translation 
were observed with the greatest solemnity for 
three centuries, 1520 being the last. 

There were four places in the church that were 
visited by pilgrims out of devotion to St. Thomas, 
and there was, besides, the chapel of Our Lady 
Undercroft, which was one of the richest sanc- 
tuaries of the Blessed Virgin in England. The 
first of the altars of St. Thomas was the little 
wooden altar erected on the spot where he was 
martyred, called ad pmictinn ensis — " at the sword's 
point." It was placed against the wall between 
the steps leading to the cr3'pt and the altar of 
St. Benedict ; and space was provided in the 
transept, and pilgrims were enabled to see the 
little altar by the removal of the column that hid 
St. Thomas from the four knights as they first 
entered the church. This column had supported 
a chapel of St. Blaise over that of St. Benedict. 
To reach this altar and the Martyrdom con- 
veniently, and to prevent crowds of pilgrims from 
being in one another's way, a passage which still 
exists was made under the steps leading from the 
nave to the choir, providing thus direct access to 
the northern transept from the southern. The 
altar " at the sword's point " was left untouched 
for centuries, and we can form a good idea to 
ourselves of the appearance of this simple little 

474 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

altar, as a panel representing it still exists in the 
middle of the south porch, over the doorway. 
The fragments'*^ of Le Breton's sword are there 
represented as lying at the foot of the altar. 

Secondly, there was the tomb in the crypt, in 
which the body of the Saint had rested for fifty 
years, where so many of the early miracles 
were wrought, and where Henry II. did his 
penance. To reach this the pilgrims had to 
pass the splendid chapel of Our Lady Undercroft, 
the existing reredos and screens of which were 
erected about the year 1370. In the crypt of the 
Trinity chapel, immediately under the Saint's 
shrine, was the marble sarcophagus, remaining 
just as it was when the Saint's bones were trans- 
ferred from it to the iron coffer, which in 1220 
was placed in the shrine above. This sarcophagus 
stood on solid masonry between the two slender 
columns that support the vaulting of the cr3'pt, 
which alone now remain to mark the place. Over 
the tomb hung the shirt and drawers of haircloth, 
worn by the Saint at his death. A part of the 
skull was kept here, showing the fatal wound, the 

iG Dean Stanley remarks that there is a similar representation 
of a broken sword in the seal of the Abbey of Aberbrothock. 


silver reliquary that held it having an open part 
where the skull might be kissed.''' 

The other part of the head of the Saint was 
enclosed in a gold and silver bust adorned with 
jewels, which was exposed for veneration in the 
chapel east of the shrine, and this was the 
third place in the church were St. Thomas 
was venerated. Whether the chapel was called 
the Crown of St. Thomas because of its archi- 
tectural position as the head and crown of 
the church, or whether it took its name from 
the head or crown of the Saint, is uncertain. 
But, though it has been questioned, there can 
be little doubt that there was an altar in Becket's 
Crown, and it is highly improbable that there 
was one in the crypt at the empty tomb. Both 
relics may well have been called the head, but 
the crown only was kept at an altar ; and the 
Black Prince, by his will in 1376, left hangings 
" for the altar where my lord Saint Thomas lies, 
for the altar where the head is, and for the altar 
where the point of the sword is.'"*^ There is an 
entry in the Registers of Prior Henry of Eastry 
in 1314, "For ornamenting the crown of St. 
Thomas with gold, silver, and precious stones 
115/. I2s."'9 This would seem distinctly to indi- 
cate the reliquary made to receive the portion 

17 The skull of Charlemagne at Aix-la-Chapelle is enclosed in 
a reliquary answering to this description. 

18 A servir devant Vautier ou monscignouy Saint Thomas gist, et d 
I'autier la ou la teste est, et a Vautier la ou la foytite de I'cspie est 
(Stanley's Canterbury, 7th edit. p. 171). 

19 Pro corona sanctl Thome auro et argento et lapidibns prcciosis 
ornanda cxv. li. xij.s. {Ibid. p. 283). 

476 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 35 

of the head of the Saint that was cut off by 
Le Breton's blow. The greatness of the sum 
expended on the rehquary for the crown is shown 
by another entry made at the same time. " For 
a new cresting of gold for the shrine of St. 
Thomas, 7/. ios."^° The contrast clearly proves 
the magnificence of the reliquary, for the cresting 
that was placed on the shrine in the fourteenth 
century must certainly have been sumptuous, 
and yet it cost but a twentieth part of the sum 
expended on the reliquary. 

The altar on the western side of the shrine 
in the chapel of the Blessed Trinity was that 
which the Black Prince described as "the altar 
where Monseignour Saint Thomas lies," and this 
was the fourth and the most important of all 
the places in the church that devotion to St. 
Thomas induced the pilgrims to visit. 

Each of the four places where the Saint was 
venerated had its Custos or Guardian among the 
officials of the monastery, to whom offerings 
were consigned by the pilgrims. An entry still 
exists in a Book of Accounts, showing the differ- 
ent offerings made at one time in these various 
places : 

" From the Guardian of the Crown of St. 
Thomas 40s. 

From the Guardians of the Shrine of St. 
Thomas 30s. 

Also from the Guardian of the Crown of St. 
Thomas 20s. 

20 Item, pro nova crista aitri feretrum S. Thoinci faciendum [sic] x.s. (Dart's Canterbury, in the Appendix). 


Also from the Guardian of the Tomb of Blessed 
Thomas 3s. 4d. 

Also from the Guardian of the IMartyrdom of 
St. Thomas 3s. 4d."-' 

This was in the thirtieth year of Henry VL, 
i.e. 1451. The relative greatness of the offerings 
at the Crown seems to show that the Crown 
that was second only to the Shrine must have 
been the relic of " the part in which the martyr 
suffered,"" which the Church has always regarded 
as deserving of especial reverence. 

Behind the high altar was a flight of steps, 
now removed, that led up to the Trinity chapel, 
where the Shrine was. Similar flights of steps 
in the choir aisles still remain, furrowed by the 
feet of many generations of pilgrims. Consider- 
able portions of the well worn mosaic pavement 
of the chapel also remain, as well as a Crescent 
in the roof, brought probably as a trophy from 
some Eastern fight. But of the Shrine there is 
not now a vestige, though fortunately three 
beautiful stained glass windows in the aisle that 
once surrounded the Shrine, have escaped des- 

21 Oblacioncs cum ohvencionihns. 

De Custode Coronc beati Thome xl.s. 
Denarii recepti pro vino conventus— 
Item, de Custodibus Feretri Sancti Thome xxx.s. 
Item, de Custode Corone Sancti Thome, xx.s. 
Item, de Custode Tumbe beati Thome, iij.s. iiij.d. 
Item, de Custode Martyrii Sancti Thome, iij.s. iiij.d. {Ibid. 
p. 2S3). 

22 Insignes autcm Reliquias S. R. C. declaravit esse caput, brachium, 
crus, out tUam partem corporis in qua passns est Martyr inodo sit 
Integra, et non parva, ct legitime ab Ordinariis approbata (Decree 
prefixed to the Roman Breviary) . 

478 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

truction. The Shrine was covered by a wooden 
case or canopy, that, from time to time, was 
drawn up with ropes. Of the appearance of the 
Shrine itself we can form some idea, partly from 
the descriptions we have of it, and partly from 
two representations that have happily come 
down to us. 

Of these the plainest, little more indeed than 
an outline, is a pen-and-ink sketch among the 
Cottonian Manuscripts^^ in the British Museum; 
which, as it was drawn after the spoliation, seems 
to represent, except as far as the finials are con- 

23 Tib. E, viii. fol. 269. Mr. George Austin says that " there 
can be little doubt that it does not attempt to represent the 
Shrine, but only the outside covering or case" (Stanley, p. 299). 
But the finials are enough to show that this is not the covering. 
These three finials, which are marked on the sketch as "silver 
gilt, 60 and So ounces" respectively, were on the shrine itself. 


cerned, its denuded state. The portion destroyed 
by the fire that injured the Cottonian hbrary in 
1731 is made good in the woodcut. The sketch 
is accompanied by the following description, 
which shows how the sides were ornamented. 

"Tern. Henr. VIII. All above the stone-work 
was first of wood, jewels of gold set with stone, 
covered with plates of gold, wrought upon with 
gold wire, then again with jewels, gold as 
brooches, images, angels, rings, ten or twelve 
together, cramped with gold into the ground of 
gold, the spoils of which filled two chests, such 
as six or eight men could but convey one 
out of the church. At one side was a stone 
with an angel of gold pointing thereunto, offered 
there by a King of France, which King Henry 
put into a ring, and wore on his thumb."--* 

The other representation of the shrine is to 
be seen in the stained glass in the aisle of the 
chapel of the Blessed Trinity. This magnificent 
glass is a portion of that with which the Shrine 
was surrounded, and is not much later than the 
erection of the Shrine itself, at the time of the 
Saint's translation, in the early part of the thir- 
teenth century. At the top of one of the lights, 
Benedict, the chronicler of the miracles, is 
represented asleep at the foot of the Shrine, and 
from the opening at the end of the upper part 
of the shrine, St. Thomas is leaning forward to 
speak to him. When the figures are removed, 
as well as the lines of the architecture of the 

24 The burnt parts of this description are supplied by Dean 
Stanley from Dugdale and Stowe (Stanley, p. 232). 



[chap. 35 

church behind the Shrine, the stained glass would 
represent the Shrine itself as in the accom- 
panying woodcut. 

In this the substructure differs from that of 
the Cottonian sketch, made three centuries after- 
wards, as here the slab on which the shrine 
rests is borne on six columns with lofty arches, 
while in the other representation the solid ma- 
sonry has five little openings or windows at the 
sides and three at the ends. The stained glass 
gives purely fanciful architecture for the church 
in which the shrine stands ; so that perhaps the 
artist may not have cared to give a faithful 
picture of the shrine which stood close by. 

Whatever ma}- have been the construction of 
the lower portion, the sketches and descriptions 
combine to show us that the shrine was of 
unrivalled magnificence. Albert Archbishop of 


Livonia, when writing the account -^ of the trans- 
lation of St, Edmund at Pontigny, says that he 
believes that there was not in the whole world 
another shrine for value or beauty like that of 
St. Thomas at Canterbury. It is similarly des- 
cribed by all the writers who mention it, until 
the time of Henry VIII. A single instance will 
be sufficient. It is a description written by a 
Venetian,^^ who visited it about the year 1500, 
which was probably the time of its greatest 
splendour. "The tomb of St. Thomas the 
Martyr, Archbishop of Canterbury, exceeds all 
belief. Notwithstanding its great size, it is all 
covered with plates of pure gold ; yet the gold 
is scarcely seen, because it is covered with 
various precious stones, as sapphires, balasses, 
diamonds, rubies, and emeralds ; and wher- 
ever the eye turns, something more beautiful 
than the rest is observed. Nor, in addition to 
these natural beauties, is the skill of art wanting ; 
for in the midst of the gold are the most beauti- 
ful sculptured gems, both small and large, as 
well as such as are in relief, as agates, onyxes, 
cornelians, and cameos ; and some cameos are 
of such a size, that I am afraid to name it ; but 
every thing is far surpassed by a ruby, not larger 
than a thumb nail,^^ which is fixed at the right of 

25 Martene, TA^s. Nov. Anecd. iii. p. 1868. 

26 A relation of England undev Henry VII., published by the 
Camden Society. 

27 "A carbuncle that shines at night, half the size of a hen's 
egg," is the Bohemian Ambassador's description in 1446 
(Stanley, p. 266). This gem, which was called the " Regall of 
France," is last mentioned as set in a collar, among the other 


482 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

the altar. The church is somewhat dark, and 
particularly in the spot where the shrine is 
placed ; and when we went to see it, the sun 
was near setting, and the weather was cloudy : 
nevertheless, I saw that ruby as if I had it in 
my hand. They say it was given by a King of 

The history of the Church has been a series 
of undulations. Kings and nobles throw riches 
into her bosom, and then these very riches allure 
the covetous, and she is despoiled and becomes 
poor ; and then offerings are made to her again, 
to become again in their turn the sacrilegious 
booty of the rapacious. The shrine of St. Thomas 
was not spared when the property of the Church 
in England fell into lay hands ; and St. Thomas 
was himself so clearly her protector, that the 
despoiler waged war against his very name. The 
following is the account given by a lawyer-*^ of 
this parody of the forms of law : 

" Henry VIII., when he wished to throw off 
the authority of the Pope, thinking that as long 
as the name of St. Thomas should remain in the 
calendar men would be stimulated by his exam- 
ple to brave the ecclesiastical authority of the 
Sovereign, instructed his Attorney-General to 
file a qiio-n;arranio information against him for 
usurping the office of a saint, aud he was formally 

jewels delivered to Queen Mary, March 10, 1554 (Nichols' 
Erasmus, p. 224). If indeed this be the same " Regal 1 of 
France," for Mary's seems to have been a diamond, and it is 
hard to imagine how a diamond could have been taken for a 
ruby or carbuncle. 

28 Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, vol. i. p. 95. 


cited to appear in court to answer the charge. 
Judgment of ouster would have passed against 
him by default, had not the King, to show his 
impartiality and great regard for the due admin- 
istration of justice, assigned him counsel at the 
public expense. The cause being called, and the 
Attorney-General and the advocate for the ac- 
cused being fully heard, with such proofs as were 
offered on both sides, sentence was pronounced, 
that ' Thomas, some time Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, had been guilty of contumacy, treason, and 
rebellion ; that his bones should be publicly burnt, 
to admonish the living of their duty by the 
punishment of the dead ; and that the offerings 
made at his shrine should be forfeited to the 
Crown.' ^5 A proclamation followed, stating that, 
' forasmuch as it now clearly appeared that 
Thomas Becket had been killed in a riot excited 
by his own obstinacy and intemperate language, 
and had been afterwards canonized by the Bishop 
of Rome as the champion of his usurped autho- 
rity, the King's Majesty thought it expedient to 
declare to his loving subjects that he was no 
saint, but rather a rebel and traitor to his prince, 
and therefore strictly charged and commanded 

29 Doubt has been thrown on this narrative by Mr. Gough 
Nichols, in his Erasmus, p. 232, but though there is some 
confusion in the dates, there does not seem to be sufficient 
reason for denying the positive statements of Sanders and 
Pollini, and the contemporary Bull of Pope Paul III. The 
arguments for and against are given by Dean Stanley, p. 251, 
note 2. Stowe asserts that not only the head but all the bones 
of the Saint were burnt, and this is strong evidence in favour of 
the mock trial, for those who deny the trial, deny the burning 
of the relics. 



484 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

that he should not be esteemed or called a saint ; 
that all images and pictures of him should be 
destroyed, the festivals in his honour be abolished, 
and his name and remembrance be erased out of 
all books, under pain of his Majesty's indignation, 
and imprisonment at his Grace's pleasure.'" 

This did not pass unnoticed in the Rome for 
which St. Thomas lived and died. Pope Paul III. 
in a BulP° against Henry VIII. recounting his 
crimes, said: "After he had, for the greater 
contempt of religion, summoned St. Thomas, 
the Archbishop of Canterbury into court, and 
caused him to be condemned as contumacious, 
and to be declared a traitor, he has ordered 
his bones, which in the realm of England, for 
the numberless miracles there wrought by Al- 
mighty God, were kept in a golden shrine at 
Canterbury, to be disinterred and burnt, and 
the ashes to be scattered to the winds : thus far 
surpassing the cruelty of all nations ; for even 
in war conquerors do not rage against the bodies 
of the dead. And in addition to this, he has 
usurped possession of all the offerings given by 
the liberality of different kings, some of them of 
England, and of other princes, which were at- 
tached to the shrine, and were of immense value ; 
and with all this, he thinks he has done religion 
no injury." 

Such events as these have placed St. Thomas 

in a peculiar position among the saints, as the 

protector of every effort to resist the spirit of 

King Henry VIII. and his successors in all their 

30 Bulla Ckw Ki'dcmptor, Dec. 17, 1538. 


attempts to exercise an ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
over the Church. 

The English Hospital in Rome was under his 
invocation, and the College which has succeeded 
to it is under the same august patronage ; and 
its members, in common with their brethren of 
the English clergy secular and regular, have so 
far trodden in his footsteps, that Cardinal 
Baronius is naturally led, when speaking of the 
Saint, to praise the martyrs who have followed 
him in England. 

The following fact shows the devotion towards 
this great Saint which was entertained in the 
Colleges, whence the " Seminary priests," as 
Missionaries Apostolic were called, proceeded. 
In 1599, the Cardinals Borghese and Farnese 
received from Pope Clement VIII. power over 
all the English Seminaries, and amongst other 
matters, to grant two festivals to each of 
them with the privileges of the feasts of the 
Blessed Trinit}' and St. Thomas, as celebrated in 
the English College at Rome. It is remarkable 
that the five Seminaries in different parts of 
Europe, choosing in the second place various 
great English saints, unanimously named in the 
first instance St. Thomas of Canterbury. 

Northampton, where St. Thomas fought a good 
fight, has in our time been made a Bishop's see 
by the Apostolic authority in whose behalf he 
fought, and the new diocese^' has been very 

31 In the diocese of Northampton St. Thomas is commemo- 
rated by a proper antiphon and versicle, approved Jan. 26, 1852. 
Ant. Ego sum Pastor bonus, et cognoscp oves meas, et 

486 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 35 

fitly placed under his patronage. Our Saint is 
usually called the Protector of the English secular 
clergy; and though no document of the Holy 
See is extant expressly ordaining this, he has 
been mentioned as such in recent rescripts. But 
the most venerable body of whom St. Thomas is 
the patron is the Sacred Congregation of Eccle- 
siastical Immunities, which assembles every year 
on his festival and at his altar, and at whose 
petition Pope Gregory XVI. made his feast of 
double rite for the States of the Church. At the 
instance of the Cardinal Duke of York, Pope 
Benedict XIV. (Jan. 8, 1749) gave leave for all 
ecclesiastics of the English nation, wherever they 
might be living, to keep his festival as a double 
of the second class with an octave; and pre- 
viously to these Decrees Pope Urban VIII. 
(March 23, 1641) had granted to all English 
people the power of celebrating the octave, 
notwithstanding its occurrence at a season when, 
by the ordinary rubrics, it would be forbidden. 
Finally, Pope Pius IX. (June 3, 1857), con- 
firmed the celebration of the festival as a double 
of the first class with an octave, the rite with 
which it has been observed in England from 
time immemorial. 

cognoscunt me mex, et animam meam pono pro ovibus 

V. In patientia vestra. 

R. Possidebitis animas vestras. 

Deus pro cujus Ecclesia, as on the feast of the Saint. 



The Saracen Princess — St. Mark's day at Sens — the water made 
wine — the chasuble turning red — the Mass of a Martyr — the 
eagle and the oil-cruet — the tails of the people of Stroud — St. 
Thomas's well — the nightingales at Oxford — our Lady's little 
chasuble — -the Seven Joys of our Lady. 

An account of St. Thomas of Canterbur}- which 
should make no mention of the legends respecting 
him would be very incomplete. The first that 
would naturally deserve a place in this chapter is 
the account of the Saracen princess, who was 
said to have been the mother of the Saint. As 
this, however, has been already given, we may 
pass on ; adding merely that it naturally became 
a favourite subject for ballads, in the hands of 
whose writers the story slightly changed its shape. 
Gilbert is there said to have been urged to marry 
after his return to England ; and he having at 
length consented, though grievously against his 
will, the Saracen lady, who had procured his 
freedom when a captive in the East, arrived in 
her wanderings at his house on the very morning 
of the wedding. 

The following extracts are taken from an ex- 
ceedingly rare old Lyfc of Saynt Thomas of Caun- 
turbury, printed by Rycharde Pynson. The 

488 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 36 

spelling alone has been changed. It begins by 
saying that St. Thomas was born in the place 
where now standeth the church called St. Thomas 
of Akers. When forty-four, "he was sacred and 
stalled, and became an holy man, suddenly 
changed into a new man, doing great penance, as 
in wearing hair with knots, and a breech of the 
same down to the knees. Under his habit he 
wore the habit of a monk, and outward a clerk ; 
and did great abstinence, making his body lean 
and his soul fat." 

We now make a leap to Sens. " And anon, 
after St. Thomas came to come on St. Mark's 
day at afternoon. And when his caterer should 
have brought fish for his dinner, because it was a 
fasting day, he could get none for no money, and 
came and told his lord St. Thomas so ; and he 
bade him buy such as he could get. And then he 
bought flesh, and made it ready for their dinner, 
and St. Thomas was served with a capon roasted, 
and his man with boiled meat. And so it was 
that the Pope heard that he was come, and sent 
a Cardinal to welcome him ; and he found him at 
his dinner eating flesh, which anon returned and 
told to the Pope how he was not so perfect a 
man as he had supposed ; for, contrary to the 
rule of the Church, he eateth this day flesh. 
The Pope would not believe him, but sent another 
Cardinal, which, for more evidence, took the leg 
of the capon in his kerchief, and affirmed the 
same, and opened his kerchief before the Pope ; 
and he found the leg turned into a fish called a 
carp. And when the Pope saw it, he said they 


were not true men to say such things of this good 
Bishop ; they said faithfully that it was flesh 
that he eat. And after this, St. Thomas came to 
the Pope, and did his reverence and obedience ; 
whom the Pope welcomed, and after certain com- 
munications, he demanded him what meat that 
he had eaten, and said. Flesh, as ye have heard 
before, because he could find no fish, and very 
need compelled him thereto. Then the Pope 
understood of the miracle that the capon's leg 
was turned into a carp, of his goodness granted 
to him and to all them of the diocese of Canter- 
bury license to eat flesh ever after on St. Mark's 
day when it falleth on a fish-day, and pardon 
withal ; which is kept and accustomed." 

If this was " kept and accustomed," it is 
singular that our Catholic ancestors should have 
lost the tradition, for amongst English Catholics 
St. Mark has been a day of abstinence until 
lately. By a Rescript of July 8, 1781, Pope 
Pius VI. abrogated the fast which, in consequence 
of an immemorial tradition, was kept in England 
on all the Fridays of the year, with the exception 
of the Paschal season. The Pope then refused 
to dispense with the abstinence on St. Mark's 
day and the three Rogation days, which the 
Vicars Apostolic had asked at the same time, 
but this was granted by Pope Pius VIII. by a 
Rescript dated May 29, 1830. 

Another legend, that deserves to be classed 
with that of the carp, is narrated by Roger 
Hoveden the chronicler. " One day the Arch- 
bishop was sitting at the table of Pope Alexander, 

490 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 36 

when his domestic placed before him a bowl of 
water. The Pope tasted it, and found it to be 
an excellent wine, and saying, ' I thought you 
drank water,' put it back before the Archbishop, 
when straightway the wine returned to its former 
taste of water." It is a pretty story, but it must 
be confessed that St. Thomas was not a water- 
drinker. " Being of a very chilly temperament," 
says Herbert of Bosham,^ "water did not agree 
with him, so that he never drank it, and but 
seldom beer, but he always took wine, though 
in great moderation and with all sobriety." The 
testimony of Garnier de Pont St. Maxence is to 
the same effect.^ 

Le meillur vin useit que il poeit trover ; 
Mes pur le freit ventreil, eschaffe le beveit ; 
Kar le ventreil aveit et le cors fonnent freit. 
Gimgibre et mult girofre, pur eschalfer, mangeit, 
Ne pur quant tut ades I'eve od le vin mesleit. 

Another version of the story is given by a 
German chronicler^ early in the thirteenth cen- 
tury. " One day the Apostolic [i.e., the Pope] 
was sitting with the Bishop, he chanced to be 
thirsty, and he said to the boy who was waiting 
on him, ' Bring me water from the fountain to 
drink.' When it was brought, the Apostolic said 
to the Bishop, ' Bless it and drink.' He blessed 
it and it was changed into wine, and when he 
had tasted, he gave it to the Apostolic. When 
the Apostolic perceived that it was wine, he 
called the boy aside and said, ' What did you 

I Herbert, p. 235. 2 Edit. Hippeau, p. 13C. 

3 Arnold of Lubeck, Materials, ii. p. 291. 


bring me ? ' The boy answered, * Water.' Then 
said he, ' Bring me some more of the same.' 
And when he had done so a second time, the 
Apostohc again said to the Bishop, ' Brother, 
bless it and drink.' And he, not being aware 
that virtue had gone out of him, and thinking 
that wine had been purposely brought, simply 
blessed it and it was again changed into wine, 
which he drank and gave to the Apostolic. And 
he not yet believing, and thinking that a mistake 
had been made, a third time secretly asked for 
water, and the third time it was changed into 
wine. Then the Apostolic was afraid, perceiving 
that the man was a saint and that the virtue of 
God was manifested in him." 

We have not, however, yet finished with 
Richard Pynson's Lyfe, so to it we return. 

" And after, St. Thomas said Mass before the 
Pope in a white chasuble ; and after Mass he 
said to the Pope, that he knew by revelation that 
he should die for the right of Holy Church, and 
when it should fall, the chasuble should be turned 
from white to red." 

We now pass to Canterbury. " On Christ- 
mas Day, St. Thomas made a sermon at Canter- 
bury in his own church, and weeping, pra3-ed the 
people to pray for him ; for he knew well his time 
was nigh, and there executed the sentence on 
them that w.ere against the right of Holy Church. 
And that same day, as the King sat at meat, all 
the bread that they handled waxed anon mouldy 
and hoar, that no man might eat of it, and the 
bread that they touched not was fair and good for 

492 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 36 

to eat. And these four knights aforesaid came to 
Canterbury on the Wednesday in Christmas 
week, about evensong time." 

" Then said Sir Reynold, ' But if thou assoil 
the King and us under standing the curse, it 
shall cost thee thy life.' And St. Thomas said, 
' Thou knowest well enough that the King and I 
were accorded on Mary Magdalen's day, and that 
this curse should go forth on them that had 
offended the Church.' Then one of the knights 
smote him as he kneeled before the altar, on the 
head ; and one Sir Edward Grim, that was his 
crozier, put forth his arm with the cross to bear 
off the stroke, and the stroke smote the cross in 
sunder, and his arm almost off, wherefore he fled 
for fear, and so did all the monks that were 
that time at Compline. And they smote each at 
him, that they smote off a great piece of the skull 
of his head, that his brain fell on the pavement. 
And so they slew him and martyred him, and 
there cruelly that one of them brake the point of 
his sword against the pavement ; and thus this 
holy Archbishop St. Thomas suffered death in his 
own church for the right of Holy Church. And 
when he was dead, they stirred his brain ; and 
after went into his chamber and took away his 
goods, and his horse out of his stable, and took 
away his bulls and writing, and delivered them to 
Sir Robert Broke to bear into France to the 
King. And as they searched his chamber, they 
found in a chest ij shirts of hair, made full of 
great knots ; and they said. Certainly he was a 
good man. And coming down into the church- 


yard, they began to dread and fear the ground 
would not have borne them, and were sore 
aghast ; for they supposed that the earth would 
have swallowed them all quick [alive] ; then they 
knew that they had done amiss. And anon it 
was known all about how that he was martyred, 
and anon after took this holy body and unclothed 
him, and found bishop's clothing above, and the 
habit of a monk under, and next his flesh a hard 
hair full of knots, which was his shirt ; and his 
breech was of the same, and the knots stuck fast 
within the skin, and all his body full of worms. 
He suffered great pain, and was thus martyred 
the year of our Lord xi.c.lxxi., and was liij 
years old. And soon after tidings came to the 
King how he was slain ; wherefore the King took 
great sorrow, and sent to Rome for his absolu- 
tion. And after that St. Thomas departed from 
the Pope, the Pope would daily look upon the 
white chasuble that St. Thomas had said Mass in, 
and that same day that he was martyred he saw 
it turn into red ; whereby he knew well that that 
same day he suffered martyrdom for the right of 
Holy Church, and commanded a Mass of Requiem 
solemnly to be sung for his soul. And when that 
the quire began for to sing Reqtneni, an angel on 
high above began the Office of a martyr, Lcetabitur 
Justus; and then anon after, all the whole quire 
followed singing forth the Mass of the Office of a 
martyr. And then the Pope thanked God that it 
pleased Him to show such miracles for His holy 
Martyr, at whose tomb, by the merit and prayers 
of this holy Martyr, our Blessed Lord there hath 

494 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 36 

showed many miracles ; the bhnd have recovered 
there their sight, the dumb their speech, the deaf 
their hearing, the lame their limbs, and the dead 
their life. Therefore let us pray to this glorious 
Martyr to be our advocate, that by his petition 
we may come unto everlasting bliss. Amen." 

There is another very curious legend connected 
with St. Thomas of Canterbury which runs thus 
in the first person, as if it were related by the 
Saint himself : "When I Thomas Archbishop of 
Canterbury fled from England into France, I 
went to Pope Alexander, who was then at Sens, 
where I showed him the evil customs and abuses 
which the King of England had introduced. One 
night, when I was in prayer in the Church of 
St. Columba, I prayed to the Queen of Virgins 
to give the King of England and his heirs pur- 
pose and will of amendment towards the Church, 
and that Christ of His mercy would make him 
love the Church with a fuller love. Straightway 
the Blessed Virgin appeared to me, having in 
her bosom this golden eagle, and holding in her 
hand a little stone cruet. Taking the eagle from 
her bosom, she shut the cruet in it, and placed 
the cruet with the eagle in my hand ; and spoke 
to me these words in order : ' This is the unction 
wherewith the Kings of England should be an- 
ointed, not these who now reign and will reign, 
who are and will be wicked, and for their sins 
have lost and will lose much ; but there are 
Kings of England to come, who shall be anointed 
with this unction, who shall be kind and cham- 
pions of the Church ; for they will recover in 


peace the land which their fathers have lost, 
when they shall have the eagle with the cruet. 
For there shall be a King of England who shall 
first be anointed with this unction ; he shall 
recover without force the land lost by his fathers, 
to wit, Normandy and Aquitaine. The King shall 
be the greatest among Kings ; and he shall build 
many churches in the Holy Land ; and he shall 
put to flight all pagans from Babylon ; and shall 
build therein many churches. As often as the 
King shall carry the eagle in his bosom, he shall 
have victory over his enemies ; and his kingdom 
in like manner shall be increased. And thou shalt 
be a martyr.' Then I asked the Blessed Virgin to 
show me who should keep so precious a treasure ; 
and she said to me, ' There is in this city a monk 
of St. Cyprian of Poitiers named William, who 
has been unjustly expelled by his Abbot from his 
abbey, and who is petitioning the Pope to compel 
his Abbot to restore him to his abbey. Give him 
the eagle with the cruet, for him to take it to the 
city of Poitiers ; and let him hide it in the Church 
of St. Gregory, near the Church of St. Hilary, at 
the head of the church, towards the west, under a 
great stone. There it shall be found at a fitting 
time, and shall be the unction of the Kings of 
England.' The cause of the finding of this eagle 
shall be among the pagans. And all these things 
I gave him shut up in a vessel of lead." The old 
MS. goes on to say, that " the above-written was 
accidentally found by my lord the King of 
England, on the vigil of St. Gregory, in the year 
of our Lord 1337, in an old chest." Walsingham 


says, that King Richard II. found it in the Tower 
of London in 1399; and that Henry IV. was the 
first King who was anointed with this oil. 

Lambarde, an historian of the county of Kent 
in the seventeenth century, recounts various 
traditional legends of St. Thomas, of which the 
following are specimens. It is curious to see 
how the old affectionate feeling for St. Thomas 
had died out, while nothing remained in the 
mind of the Kentishmen respecting him, but a 
sense of his power. 

" Polydore Virgil (handling that hot contention 
between King Henry II. and Thomas Becket) 
saith that Becket (being at the length reputed for 
the King's enemy) began to be so commonly 
neglected, contemned, and hated, that when as it 
happened him upon a time to come to Stroud, the 
inhabitants thereabouts (being desirous to despite 
that good Father) sticked not to cut the tail from 
the horse on which he rode, binding themselves 
thereby with a perpetual reproach : for afterwards 
(by the will of God) it so happened that every 
one which came of that kindred of men which 
had played that naughty prank, were born with 
tails, even as brute beasts be."-^ 

" It was long since fancied, and is yet of too 
many believed, that while Thomas Becket lay 
at the old house at Otford (which of long time, 
as you see, belonged to the Archbishops, and 
whereof the old hall and chapel only do now 
remain) and saw that it wanted a fit spring to 
water it, that he stuck his staff into the dry 
4 Perambulations of Kent, Chatham, 1S26, p. 356. 


ground (in a place thereof now called St, Thomas's 
Well), and that immediately the same water 
appeared, which running plentifully, serveth the 
offices of the new house till this present day. 
They say also, that as he walked on a time in 
the old Park (busy at his prayers) that he was 
much hindered in devotion by the sweet note 
and melody of a nightingale that sang in a bush 
beside him : and that therefore (in the might of 
his holiness) he enjoined that from thenceforth 
no bird of that kind should be so bold as to 
sing thereabout. Some men report likewise, 
that forasmuch as a smith (then dwelling in 
the town) had cloyed his horse, he enacted by 
like authority, that after that time no smith 
should thrive within the parish." ^ 

A story of a very different kind comes to us 
from the Icelandic Tlwuins Saga, a fourteenth 
century compilation. The same story was known 
in the south of Europe in the last century, neces- 
sarily from an entirely independent source, for 
it is inserted by St. Alphonsus Liguori in his 
Glories of Mary. The quaintness of the wording 
is due to the literalness of the translation from 
the Icelandic.^ 

" The school of Paris is a large congregation 
wherein there be many sons of well-born fathers, 
. . . Out of all their number scarce one might 
be found who had not one woman-friend with 

5 Ibid. p. 460. 

6 Thomas Saga Erkibyskups. By Eirikr Magnusson, Sub- 
Librarian of the University of Cambridge. Rolls Series, vol. i. 
p. 21. 


498 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 36 

whom he kept fellowship ; and none do we know 
outtaken therefrom but Thomas the English ; he 
alone hath no sweetheart of earth, nay but rather 
is she his only beloved who is the Queen of the 
maidens ; her he serveth even now to the utmost 
of his power, in purity of life, both as to spirit 
and body, in beauty of mind and fair prayers. 
Unto this he addeth what has since become 
widely renowned, in that he compoundeth praises 
of our Lady, both for private reading and for 
proses in the church. He was of all men the 
first to find, as far as has become known here 
in the north, how to draw meditation out of 
every psalm in the Psalter, out of which medi- 
tations he afterwards made verses of praise to 
our Lady. Following his example, Stephen 
Langton did the same in England, and later 
still the same w^as done by three masters west 
in Scotland, at the request of Queen Isabell, 
whom Eric Magnusson had for wife.'' It is also 
averred by all folk that the blessed Thomas 
composed the prose Impcratrix gloriosa, and 
another, a lesser one, Hodiernce lux did. Now 
for such things, and other good works which 
he wrought, he got such love from our Lady, 
that it may well be said she took him unto 
her bosom, thus saying unto him : Dilcdus mens 
mihi et ego illi. 

" Next to these things let us see what the 

7 " The marriage of King Eric Magnusson of Norway and 
Isabella Bruce took place in 1293. The King died six years 
afterwards, July 13, 1299, and the dowager Queen in 1358" 
{Mr. Magnusson' s note). 


clerks busy them about, since now time passeth 
on and weareth towards Lent. . . . They now 
hold a great parliament whereat in a brawly 
wise each one praiseth his own beloved, saying 
that she is goodly of look, and wise of speech, 
and dealeth with all things with a deft hand. 
This is a meeting whereat Thomas the English 
sitteth and sayeth nought at all. They now 
cast glances at him with some rude jeering or 
mockery. ... At the playmote, which was to 
be the next morning, . . . there was to be 
brought forth for show the cleverest trifle in 
needlework which each one's mistress had 
wrought. i\nd when as the blessed Thomas is 
threatened with hard dealing, he betaketh him 
to his well-beloved, and kneeling down prayeth 
unto our Lady that she might deign to spare 
him of her needlework something fit to be shown 
among his companions, no matter if it were not 
a thing of great worth. Thus he prayeth, and 
the night passeth away and the parliament 
taketh place. And he, as well as each and all 
of them, beareth forth unto the show-stand the 
glitter which each one hath got for himself. 
Now again they look askance to Thomas, asking 
what he might be about. He answered even 
thus : ' I shall go forthwith and show you what 
mine own beloved brought to me last night ; ' 
whereupon he went to his private study, where 
he found that a certain casket had come, snow- 
white, of shining ivory, locked and fashioned 
with images in a manner to surpass all polish 
that might be wrought by the hand of man. 


This little thing he now taketh with him and 
showeth to his companions. The casket being 
unlocked, it appeareth what it containeth, which 
in short was this, there here was found, folded 
down, a full set of bishop's robes, so heedfull}^ 
gathered together that even the staff was there- 
among also. At this the noise of the clerks 
abateth somewhat, since by this wonder they 
understand that an election hath already fallen 
to the lot of this very Thomas, and that his 
path lieth somewhat higher than the ways of 
such folk, who sink into the sins and the filth 
of this miserable life. But that which was told 
of these robes is by right understanding to be 
taken to mean as much as that they were of 
such smallness of size, that they could be kept 
within a small space before the eyes of man." 

This extract has mentioned the belief in Ice- 
land in the fourteenth century that St. Thomas 
was the author of hymns to the Blessed Virgin. 
One such hymn, believed to be his, may here be 
given from a paper ^ taken from a very different 
source, that is to say, from a manuscript in one 
of the great libraries at Rome. 

" These are the Seven Temporal Jo}-s of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Gaude Virgo, Mater Christi, 
Quern per aiirem concepisti, 
Gabriele nuntio : 

Gaude, quia Deo plena 
Peperisti sine poena 
Cum pudoris lilio : 

8 Miscell. IMSS. in 410, Bibl. Casanatense, D. v. 26, f. loS. 


Gaude, quia Magi dona 
Tuo Nato ferunt bona, 
Quem tenes in gremio : 

Gaude, quia reperisti 
Tuum natum quem quaesisti 
In doctorum medio : 

Gaude, quia tui Nati 
Quem dolebas morte pati 
Fulget resurrectio : 

Gaude, Christo ascendente 
Et in coelum te tuente 
Cum Sanctorum nubilo : 

Gaude, quae post Christum scandis, 
Et est tibi. honor grandis 
In coeH palatio. 

" We read that Blessed Thomas, the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, was wont to repeat with 
great devotion the Seven Temporal Joys of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary. Once when he was saying 
these joys in his oratory, as he was accustomed, 
the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and said, 
' Why are you glad only for my joys which were 
temporal, and do not rather rejoice over the 
present joys which I now enjoy in Heaven, which 
are eternal ? Rejoice, therefore, and exult with 
me for the future. First, because my glory sur- 
passes the happiness of all the saints. Secondly, 
because as the sun gives light to the day, so my 
brightness gives light to the whole court of 
Heaven. Thirdly, because all the hosts of Heaven 
obey me, and ever honour me. Fourthly, because 
my Son and I have but one will. Fifthly, because 
God rewards, at my pleasure, all my servants, 
both now and hereafter. Sixthly, because I sit 

502 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 36 

next to the Holy Trinity, and my body is glori- 
fied. Seventhly, because I am certainly sure that 
these joys will last for ever, and never end. And 
whoever shall honour me by rejoicing in these 
my J03's, shall receive the consolation of my 
presence at the departure of his soul from the 
body, and I will free his soul from evil enemies, 
and I will present him in the sight of my Son, 
that he may possess with me the everlasting joys 
of Paradise.' Blessed Thomas the Mart^T afore- 
said composed these seven joys, as they here 

" These are the Seven Heavenly Joys of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Gaude flore virginali 
Quae honore special! 

Transcendis splendiferum 
Angelorum principatum, 
Et sanctorum decoratum 

Dignitate munerum. 

Gaude Sponsa cara Dei, 
Nam ut lux clara diei 

Soils datur lumine, 
Sic tu facis orbem vere 
Tuae pacis resplendere 

Lucis plenitudine. 

Gaude, splendens vas virtutum, 
Tuae sedis est ad nutum 

Tola coeli curia : 
Te benignam et felicem 
Jesu dignam Genitricem 

Veneratur gloria. 

Gaude, nexu \oluntatis 
Et amplexu charitatis 
Juncta sic altissimo 


Ut ad iiutuin consequaris 
Quicquid, Virgo, postularis 
A Jesu dilectissimo. 

Gaude, mater miserorum, 
Quia Pater prjemiorum 

Dabit te colentibus 
Congruentem hie mercedem, 
Et felicem poli sedem 

Sursuin in ccElestibus. 

Gaude, humilis beata, 

- Corpore glorificata, 

Meruisti maxima 

Flore tantae dignitatis 

Ut sis Sanctae Trinitatis 

Sessione proxima. 

Gaude Virgo, Mater pura, 
Certa manens et secura 

Quod hasc tua gaudia 
Non cessabunt, non durescent. 
Sed durabunt et florescent 

In perenni gloria. Amen. 

V. Exaltata es Sancta Dei Genitrix. 

R. Super chores Angelorum ad ccelestia regna. 

O dulcissime Jesu Chiiste, qui beatissimam Genitricenr 
Tuam, gloriosam Virginem Mariam perpetuis gaudiis in 
ccelo laetificasti, concede propitius ut ejus meritis et pre- 
cibus continuis, salutem et prosperitatem mentis et cor- 
poris consequamur, et ad gaudia Tuze Beatitudinis ac 
ejusdem Virginis feliciter perveniamus aeternam. Per Te, 
Jesu Christe, Salvator mundi, qui vivis et regnas cum Deo 
Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia ssecula 
sasculorum. Amen." 

Dr. Smith, the Bishop of Chalcedon, quotes, 
from Parker's History of St. Thomas, that there 
was a hymn composed in his praise by St. 
Thomas of Aquin, which was sung daily. It is 

504 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY, [chap. 36 

much to be regretted that it has not come down 
to us, for it would indeed have been pleasing to 
have connected the name of our Saint with that 
of his holy Dominican namesake, as we have had 
occasion in different ways to associate him with 
the memory of Saints Bernard and William, and 
Gilbert, as well as Saints Anselm and Edmund. 



The Butlers, Earls of Ormond — the Saint's sisters — two nephews 
buried at Verona — Blessed John and Peter Becket, Augus- 
tinian Hermits at Fabriano — Minerbetti — Becchetti — Mor- 
selli — St. Catherine of Bologna — Mosaics at Monreale — vest- 
ments at Anagni — chapels at Fourvieres and St. Lo — mitre 
at Namur — altars at Liege and Rome^relics at Veroli and 
Marsala — relics now existing and many more that have 

Speaking of the Butlers, Earls of Ormond, 
Father Campion' says, "The Latin History 
calleth him Domimmi de Pincerna, the English Le 
Bottiller, whereby it appeareth that he had some 
such honour about the Prince. His very surname 
is Becket, who was advanced by H. le 2 in 
recompense of the injury done to Thomas of 
Canterbury their kinsman." 

Of the family of the Saint, we have already 
seen something^ on the occasion when Rohesia 
his sister presented herself at Canterbury before 
the King in his penitential mood. There are some 
few further points of history to note respecting 
St. Thomas's sisters. The community of Christ 
Church continued to keep up some relation with 

1 History of Ireland, cap. 2, Dublin, 1633, reprinted 1809, 
p. 8. 

2 Supra, p. 445. 

506 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

them, as in a Necrology^ of the monks and their 
friends and benefactors, the obits of two of them 
occur. On the 21st of January Mary the Abbess 
of Barking died ; and the same day was the anni- 
versary of Wilham the priest, the martyr's chap- 
lain — perhaps the Wilham whom he had made 
chaplain of Penshurst,"^ who might well have been 
called, as by a special sort of title, "the martyr's 
chaplain." On the 2nd of February there is the 
entry of the death of another sister of St. Thomas, 
Agnes, the widow of Thomas,^ son of Theobald 
of Helles in Tipperary, foundress in conjunction 
with her husband of the Hospital of St. Thomas 
of Acre, on the site where Gilbert Becket's 
house had stood, where St. Thomas was born, 
and where the Mercers' Chapel now stands. She 
gave ten shillings rent to St. Saviour's Hospital, 
Bermondsey, and the deed of gift was witnessed 
by Sir Theobald, " the nephew of Blessed Thomas 
the Martyr," who may have been her son. It is 
supposed that the Butlers of Ormond were de- 
scended from Agnes, and this relationship is 
mentioned in a petition to Parliament in 1454. 

Of the other members of the family who were 
scattered over Europe in exile for his sake, we 
are told that two of his nephews were buried at 
Verona, which will probably account for the pos- 

3 12 Kill. 'Feb. Obi it Maria Abbatissa dc Bcrkin, sovor hcati 
Thoniie Martyris, et Wilhelmus sacerdos, ejusdem Martyris capcUanus. 
4 Idus Feb. Obiit Agnes, soror beati TJioma Martyris (Cott. MSS. 
Nero, C. ix, 2, fol. i, printed by Dart, History of the Church cj 
Canterbury, App. p. xxxiii.). 

4 Supra, pp. 389, 397. 

5 Robertson's Bechet, a Biography, p. 353. 


session of a relic of him by the parish church of 
S. Tommaso Cantuariense, which was built in 
his honour in 1316. 

Some other relatives were at Rome, who under 
Innocent III., finally settled at Fabriano, where, 
in the fourteenth century, two were born of the 
family,^ who imitated his sanctity and were raised 
to the dignity of the altar. Blessed John and 
Peter Becket were of the Augustinian Eremitical 
Order at Fabriano. The first went to Oxford 
about the year 1385, being then a Bachelor in 
Theology, to give lectures in that University, 
where he had assigned to him, by the general 
chapter of his Order, held at Strigonia, or Gran, 
in Hungary on the 24th of May, 1385, " the first 
place given to foreigners by the University of 
Oxford in the Lectureship of the Sentences." 
Various favours are recorded in the registry of 
the order, as conferred upon him by the General ; 
amongst others that of going to London with one 
companion when he thought proper, of remaining 
in the convent at Oxford during the vacations, 
and of having a scribe. He returned with his 
master's degree, about 1392, to the convent where 
he had been professed, in which, on the 7th of 
May, 1420, he had the full powers of the General 
delegated to him. 

Blessed Peter Becket was chosen, in 1388, 
joint visitor of the convent of his Order at Rimini, 
as a. substitute for the famous Gregory de Ari- 
mino. In the following year he received leave 

C This account is entirely taken from the documents presented 
to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1835. 

508 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

to preach ; but this occupation was not allowed 
to distract him from his studies, for in 1391 he 
was made second lecturer at Venice. Two years 
later he was permitted to visit the Holy Sepul- 
chre ; and his name reappears in the chronicles 
of the order, in 1421, as being allowed an attend- 
ant, probably because of his advanced age. It is 
said, that on his return from the Holy Sepulchre, 
he awakened in his saintly relative a desire to 
visit those holy places also, and that they made 
their pilgrimage together. On their return, they 
built in their native town a church in honour of 
the Holy Sepulchre, with two chapels and five 
altars, on one of which the relics of the two holy 
religious ultimately rested. Their translation 
from the burial-place of the convent was owing 
to a miracle ; for a bundle of dry thorns left 
between their graves budded and blossomed wnth 
numerous and beautiful flowers. They were 
moved to the convent church ; and afterwards, 
in 1565, they were solemnly translated to the 
Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Fabriano, 
where their festival is kept on the ist of 
January, the anniversary of their translation. 
The little church in which they are is now 
called by their name ; and the wooden shrine 
in which their bodies rest is covered with 
paintings representing miracles wrought by 
their intercession, considered to be of about 
the date of 1450. In 1591 the community 
of Fabriano made a vow to observe their 
festival as a day of obligation for twelve 3'ears, 
to obtain their deliverance from pestilence and 


famine. Their claim to the title of Blessed, and 
the confirmation of the honour hitherto shown 
to them, were allowed by Pope Gregory XVI. 
on the 28th of August, 1835. 

In a Life of St. Thomas published at Lucca 
in i6g6, by John Baptist Cola, of the Congre- 
gation of the Mother of God, various Italian 
families are named as claiming descent from 
the banished relations of the Saint. Of these 
the author gives the first place to F. Andrea 
Minerbetti, a Knight Commander of the Order 
of St. John at Florence, and then he enumerates 
the Signori Becchetti of Piacenza, Fabriano, 
Verona, of Sacca in Sicily, and of Berceto in 
the territory of Parma, to which latter place 
he attributes the possession of a precious relic 
of our Saint. He then speaks of the Signori 
Morselli of Vigerano and Piacenza. In the 
former place this family rejoiced in the posses- 
sion of a fountain which St. Thomas had caused 
to spring up miraculously on one of his journeys 
to Rome, which favour was recorded in verses 
engraved on the city standard, which it was their 
privilege to carry in procession on St. Mark's day. 

The same book contains an interesting account 
of a vision of St. Catherine of Bologna. In order 
to devote herself to prayer, this Saint had de- 
prived herself of her natural rest to such an 
extent that her spiritual daughters, fearing both 
for her mind and body, implored her to devote less 
time to this holy exercise. St. Catherine, after 
asking fervently for God's guidance, fell asleep 
and saw St. Thomas of Canterbury, to whom 

510 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

she was particularly devoted, appear to her in 
his pontifical vestments, and make a sign to her 
to observe what he should do. She noticed that 
he prayed for some time and then devoted a 
while to rest, and then returned again to prayer ; 
and then, drawing near to St. Catherine, he gave 
his hand to her to kiss, on which she awoke and 
saw him and kissed his hand before he dis- 
appeared. The account of this the Saint wrote 
in her breviary, "which is still amongst her relics 
at Bologna," with these words : " Oratio pro 
Sancto Thoma meo gloriosissimo Martyre, tam 
benignissimo, qui manus suas sanctissimas con- 
cessit mihi, et osculata sum illas in corde et 
corpore meo ; ad laudem Dei et illius scripsi, et 
narravi hoc cum omni veritate." In both the 
lives of St. Catherine given by the Bollandists 
(March 9), this is narrated, with a slight varia- 
tion in the words written by the Saint in her 
breviary. " S. Thomas meus gloriosissimus et 
clementissimus Patronus," one says are the words 
used respecting our great English martyr by the 
wonderful virgin who now for four hundred years 
has dwelt incorrupt amongst her Poor Clares at 

The devotion to St. Thomas spread very rapidly. 
The earliest known representation of the Saint 
is executed in mosaic, in the church of Monreale, 
near Palermo, built by William the Good, King 
of Sicily, who began its erection in the very year 
St. Thomas was canonized. This King married 
Princess Jane of England, daughter of our 
Henry II., who arrived in Sicil}' in the year 


In the Cathedral at Anagni are preserved a 
full set of very beautiful vestments, given in the 
year 1200 by Pope Innocent III.; and on one 
of the dalmatics/ amongst some representations 
of other English saints, is the martyrdom of 
St. Thomas. In the history of Anagni by De 
Magistris, it is said that in ii6g, while Alexander 
III. was living in the canonica of that Cathedral, 
St. Thomas himself arrived not long after the 
ambassadors of King Henry ; and that during 
his stay there he always celebrated Mass in the 
basilica. Such a journe}', however, would surely 
have been betrayed at least in the voluminous 
correspondence, if not in the biographies of the 
Saint. The local tradition is very strong that 
the Saint came thither in person during his 
exile ; and an altar in the crypt, which has been 
removed to form a burial-place for the canons, 
is stated to be that on which he used to celebrate. 
In the choir-chapel an inscription^ on a picture, 
which may once have formed the door of a trea- 
sury, tells us that in 1325 they possessed a relic 
of him. 

It is said that when the Saint was at 
Lyons, he was asked to consecrate the church 
on the hill to our Blessed Lady, which has 
since become so famous as Notre Dame de 
Fourvieres. When the function was over, there 

7 Mrs. Jameson is wrong in calling it the cope (Legends of 
Monastic Ordei's. London, 1850, p. 115). 

8 Hoc opus fieri fecit Dominiis Raynaldus Presbyter et Clericus istiiis 
EcclesiiS sub anno Domini 1325, 7nense Maii. Ibi sunt de Reliquiis 
Sanctorum Thoma: Archiepiscopi Cant., TJioiUiS de Aquino, et Petri 
Ep iscop i Anagnmi. 

512 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

was a little chapel close by, which he was asked 
to dedicate also. He inquired in whose honour 
it was to be consecrated. They told him that 
a titular Saint had not been chosen, but that he 
himself must select one. He thought for a few 
moments, and then said that he would not con- 
secrate it ; but that they must reserve it to be 
dedicated to the first martyr who should give his 
blood for Christ. The chapel was accordingly, 
a few years after, dedicated to God in honour of 
St. Thomas of Canterbury. 

A precisely similar story is told of St. Lo. " In 
another part of the town is a building, now La 
Halle au Bled, which before the Revolution was 
a church dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. 
The original church was finished in 1174. It 
was in progress when Thomas a Becket, having 
incurred the resentment of Henry, went abroad 
and passed through St. Lo. There was a dispute 
at the time to whom the new church should be 
dedicated. The illustrious stranger was con- 
sulted ; and his reply was, ' Let it be dedicated 
to the first saint who shall shed his blood for 
the Catholic faith.' Providence allowed it to be 
dedicated to himself. He was murdered in 1171, 
and canonized in 1173. The original church, 
however, was pulled down in 1571, to make room 
for improvement in the fortifications, and rebuilt 
in its present situation in 1630." ^ 

In the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame at 
Namur, his martyrdom is represented on a mitre 

9 Avcliitcctural Tour in Normaiuly. By H. Gaily Knight. Esq., 
M.r. London, 1S36, p. 123. 


which formerly belonged to the celebrated Car- 
dinal James de Vitry, the director and biographer 
of Blessed Mary of Oignies, which he left in 1244 
to the Abbey of Oignies, whence at the death of 
the last prior it, with the abbey relics, passed to 

The first altar erected to him in Belgium'" was 
in the Monastery of St. Laurence at Liege, by 
Abbot Everlin, " for the love which he bore him, 
as he studied with him at Paris." In Rome, the 
earliest altar known to have been raised in his 
honour" is that in the chapel dedicated to him 
in the crypt or Confession of the Church of 
St. Alexius on the Aventine, which was conse- 
crated, in 1218, by Pelagius, Cardinal Bishop of 
Albano, who placed therein some of his relics, 
together with those of several other saints. 
There is a fine relic at Veroli, preserved in a 
very handsome bust decorated by a canon of 
the church two centuries ago. And at Marsala, 
where the feast of St. Thomas is a day of obli- 
gation, there is also a large relic in a silver bust, 
given to the church in that place by Antonio 
Lombardo, a native of Marsala, who became 
Archbishop of Messina in 1572. 

10 Martene, Vet. Scriptoy. Paris, 1724, vol. iv. p. logo. In 
1 196 Adalbert III., Archbishop of Saltzburg, ordered the 
monastery of Admont to celebrate the feast as a double of the 
second class, " et ut meliori pane et vino et etiam piscibus ob 
honorem ejusdem Martyris nostrique memoriam ilia die congre- 
gationi ministretur." 

11 " Ex pervetusto membran. cod. qui Lectionarium dicebatur, 
ad Alexianorum usum monachorum " (Felix Nerinius, Abbas 
Hieronymianus, De templo et coenob. SS. Bonifacii et Alexis. Romse, 
1752, p. 220). 


514 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

A chasuble of the Saint is at Courtrai, a 
chasuble and chalice are preserved at Dixmude, 
and a set of vestments at Sens ; his Eminence 
Cardinal Wiseman obtained a mitre, and the 
apparel of an amice is at Erdin^ton, both from 
the same treasury. The late Bishop Gillis 
obtained permission to take from the Cathedral 
of Sens one half of the altar stone, on which, 
.according to the local tradition, St. Thomas said 
Mass. With this he made an altar for his 
■domestic chapel in Edinburgh, and at the altar's 
foot he placed the heart of King Henry II. 

Perhaps the most interesting relics which 
remain are those at St. Mary Major's at Rome. 
Baronius says'^ that the Cardinal Legates, Albert 
and Theodwin, brought back with them a portion 
of his brain which had been scattered on the 
pavement, and his tunic stained with blood, and 
that they were then placed in that church. 

Vast numbers of other relics have been 
honoured in different churches, but no longer 
survive the various storms which have assailed 
religion. Prior Benedict, when he was made 
Abbot of Peterborough in 1176, made two altars 
in that Minster of stones taken from the floor of 
the martyrdom. He also enriched his new abbey 
with two vases of the blood of St. Thomas and 
parts of his clothing.'^ Roger, who had become 

J2 Annales, vol. xii. p. 655. 

13 It is difficult to see why Dean Stanley should call this "an 
-act of plunder." Nothing could have been more natural than 
that the monks of Canterbury should help their own Prior on 
his promotion, himself the historian of the martyrdom and 
miracles, to spread the devotion to St. Thomas. 


keeper of the shrine when Benedict was made 
Prior, was elected Abbot of St. Augustine's in 
the place of Clarembald, in the hope that he 
might take with him some relic of St. Thomas ; 
and Thorn, a monk of that abbey, who records 
it, says that they were enriched by him with 
some portion of the Martyr's blood, brain, and 
skull. Prior Geoffrey took some relics with 
him to Rouen, and he was accustomed to wear 
a reliquary containing a small piece of the 
crown of the Saint. In the books of miracles 
written by William of Canterbury '+ and Benedict 
very frequent mention is made of relics, usually 
small pieces of the Saint's clothing, as at Hythe, 
Whitchurch, Bapaume, Chatillon near Laon, and 
in the house of the Bishop of Moray at Spynie. 

From more recent records we learn that a 
hair-shirt '5 was shown in a reliquary in the 
English College at Douay, a small part of 
one in the Abbey of Liesse, another'^ in 
St. Victor's at Paris ; a bone of his arm in the 
great Church of St. Waldetrude at Mons ; his 
chalice in the great nunnery of Bourbourg;'^ his 
mitre and linen dipped in his blood at St.Bertin's 
at St. Omer; the rochet'^ that he wore at his 
martyrdom was in the Abbey of St. Josse-au- 
Bois or St. Judoc's, commonly called Dammartin ; 

14 Will. Cant. pp. 188, 244, 250, 305, 3S4. 

15 Alban Butler, Lives of the Saints, Dec. 29. 

16 La Vie de S. Thomas. Par De Beaulieu, Paris, 1674, p. 388. 

17 Destombes, Vies des Saints, Cambrai, 1852, tome iv. p. 167. 
For various other memorials in the Low Countries mentioned 
by this author, see Note F. 

18 Stapleton, Tres Thoma, Colon. Agr. 1612, p. 108. 

5l6 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

vestments in many other monasteries in the Low 

The ring'^^yhici^ j^g wore when he was martyred 
was among the rehcs at Glastonbury: at Windsor 
was a portion of his blood, and also a shirt : at 
Warwick a portion of a hair-shirt : at St. Alban's 
a portion also of a hair-shirt, of his cowl, his 
chasuble, his dalmatic and pallium : in the 
nunnery of St. Mary at Derby a piece of a 
shirt: at St. Mary's, Chester, a girdle :-° and 
the Commissioners for the Suppression of Monas- 
teries" say that they found at Bury St. Edmund's 
his penknife and boots. With a little pains this 
list of relics in England could be largely in- 

In conclusion we turn to the church from 
whose stores most other churches derived their 
treasured relics of St. Thomas, Christ Church, 
at Canterbury. There, besides the body of 
St. Thomas in its shrine, the head in one reli- 
quary and the crown in another, we have the 
following, which are here selected as the more 
interesting,-^ from a list made in 13 15 by Prior 
Henry of Eastry. 

" In a wooden lectern at the altar of the Holy 
Cross in the nave of the church, covered in part 
with silver gilt and jewelled, with a cross in the 
middle, are contained a silver gilt cross with 

19 Mot. Angl. Lond. 16S2, vol. i. p. 6. 

20 All these are mentioned by Gough Nichols, p. 22S. 

21 Wright, Letters on the Dissolution, Camden Society, p. S5. 

22 See Note O. 

23 Cotton. MSS.; Galba E iv. f. 122; Dart's History of the 
Chureh of Canterbury, App. p. xlii. 


gems, with the wood of our Lord in the middle, 
and relics of St. Thomas the Martyr, part of a 
finger of St. Andrew, a bone of St. Stephen, and 
some of the body of St. Wulstan." This wooden 
lectern cannot be a bookstand on the altar, as 
until recent times the missal was placed on a 

" In a little silver gilt cup is contained the 
pallium of St. Thomas the Martyr." This 
pallium the engraving of the Saint's seal has 
shown us^^ was covered with embroidery, which 
is very unusual ; for generally the pallium is of 
pure white wool, with black crosses. Erasmus 
says : " A pall was shown, which, though wholly 
of silk, was of a coarse texture, and unadorned 
with gold or jewels." If Erasmus is speaking 
of the pallium, he can only mean that it was 
embroidered in silk. 

" In a great round ivory coffer, oblong at its 
head, with a lock^^ of copper — The white mitre 
with an orfrey of St. Thomas the Martyr, in 
which he was buried ; another white mitre of 
the same, which he used on simple feasts ; gloves 
of the same, adorned with three orfreys ; shoes 
of the same, of Inde, embroidered with gold 
roses, besants and crescents, with stockings^^ of 
black samit [silk] , embroidered ; his hair-shirt ; 
part of his bed and girdle. 

24 Supra, p. 8S. 

25 Serum (MS.), which Mr. Nichols translates "rimmed with 

26 Subtalaribus (MS.), which Mr. Nichols translates "strings.'' 
Subtalares and sotulares (sub talis, under the ankles) usually mean 
shoes, but here they are in conjunction with sandalia. 

5l8 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

" In the same coffer, folded up in a white 
diapered^'' cloth — Some of the dust of the body 
of Blessed Thomas the Martyr ; part of his cappa 
and his other clothing- ; part of his coverlet ; of 
his cowl ; of the fastening of his hair-shirt ; some 
of his flesh and blood dried up ; part of his girdle, 
and of his pillow ; some of his hair. 
. " In the same coffer, folded up in another cloth, 
of silk — Part of the chasuble of St. Thomas; 
part of his dalmatic; of his tunic; of his monastic 
woollen shirt ; of his cope ; some cloth dipped in 
his blood ; part of his cowl, and of his cap ; his 
discipline made of thongs." 

Most of the relics here mentioned must have 
been buried with the Saint — of the white mitre it 
is expressly said — and disinterred at his transla- 
tion just a century before this list of relics was 
made. At that time, among the chasubles in 
the sacristy, one is noted as " St. Thomas's red 
chasuble, with gold crescents and stars ; " among 
the amices, " St. Thomas's amice adorned with 
gems;" and among the croziers, "the pastoral 
staff of St. Thomas, of pear wood, with the head 
of black horn." Sometime during the next two 
hundred years this simple crozier was covered 
with silver, and probably it was shortened by 
portions being given away as relics. Erasmus 
mentions it thus : " After this we were led into 
the sacristy. What a display was there of silken 
vestments, what an array of golden candlesticks ! 
There we saw the pastoral staff of St, Thomas. 

27 Diasperato (MS.), "from O.F. diaspre, later diapre, a 
jasper, a stone much used for ornamental jewellery " (Skeat). 


It appeared to be a cane covered with silver 
plate ; it was of very little weight, and no work- 
manship, nor stood higher than to the waist." 
The saint's seal, to which attention has already- 
been drawn, shows that the pastoral staff there 
depicted was not originally as short as it is 
described by Erasmus. The extreme simplicity 
of the crozier used by St. Thomas is remarkable. 
His Archiepiscopal Cross does not seem to have 
been preserved. 

We have lingered with affectionate interest 
among the memorials and relics of our Saint, 
as a Catholic might linger in the aisles of the 
old Cathedral Church of Canterbury, itself our 
best relic of him. The footprints left in the 
hard stone by the multitudes who once thronged 
that Church vividly recall the past, and fill our 
minds with memories of the days that were so 
like and so unlike our own. They were like to 
our times, because the strife between the Church 
and the world ever continues, but the aspect of 
the strife differs widely. The battle is always sub- 
stantially the same. The world is, and ever will 
be, the Church's foe, and however the appearance 
of the battle may change, the Church always 
needs the loyal devotion and self-sacrifice of her 
sons. In her contest of every age she looks for 
generous souls, to whom the will of God shall 
be dearer than wealth, dearer than position and 
influence and power, dearer than home and 
country, dearer than family and friends, dearer 
than life itself. Such a one, and a prince among 

520 ST. THOMAS OF CANTERBURY. [chap. 37 

such, was St. Thomas of Canterbury. The 
Church's battles are not fought and won, as the 
world supposes. In them the wounded and the 
slain are the conquerors, and to die is to live. 
The Prince of Peace Himself has said, " Do not 
think that I came to send peace upon earth ; 
I came not to send peace, but a sword. He 
that iindeth his life shall lose it ; and he that 
shall lose his life for Me, shall find it."-** 

28 St. Matt. X. 34, 39. 


NOTE A (page 5). 


Writers so various as Godwin, Cave, Thierry and 
Sharon Turner, Froude and Giles, the author of the 
Cologne Life of 1639, Cola, Beaulieu, and our own 
accurate Alban Butler, all admit the story of 
Gilbert's escape from a Saracen prison, and his 
marriage with a Saracen princess. Mr. Berington 
was the first to reject it. 

About the time of the Translation of the relics 
of St. Thomas by Cardinal Langton, in 1220, a 
compilation was made from the several biogra- 
phers, which has since gone by the name of the 
Quadviloguc. A large number of copies of this 
book exist, and, if one may say so, it has passed 
through several editions, as it has many different 
prefaces or prologues. The best-known Quadrilogue 
is that published by Christian Lupus, or Wolf, at 
Brussels in 1682. It had been previously printed 
at Paris in black letter, in 1495, under the title of 
"Vita et Processus S. Thomae." This latter book 
is sometimes called the first Quadrilogue; though 
it has no claim to the distinction except in having 
been the first in print. It differs from the second 
Quadrilogue not only in the opening chapters, in 
which the story of the Saracen princess is related, 
but also by quotations from Fitzstephen and Grim, 
so that in its case, at least, the title of Quadrilogue is 
a misnomer. This greater fulness shows that it is 
the later compilation. 


John of Brompton is generally quoted as the 
authority' for this legend ; but he has simply copied 
the first seven chapters of the first Quadrilogiie, alter- 
ing only the beginnings and endings of the chapters, 
and omitting the names of the various authors ; and, 
when the history begins to be rather intricate, he re- 
fers his readers to the Life " quani iiij viri famosi 
scripserunt " (Ed. Twysden, pp. 1051, 1058). 

John Grandisson, Bishop of Exeter (from i8th 
October 1327, until his death, 15th July 1369), in- 
formed his old Professor of Divinity at Paris (Doctor 
James Fournier), who was elected Pope on 20th De- 
cember 1334, and crowned by the name of Benedict 
XII. on the following 8th January, in his compli- 
mentary letter on his promotion, that he himself had 
compiled a Life of St. Thomas the Martyr, which he 
intended to submit to his Holiness. " Vitam beati 
Thomae Martyris, ex multis scriptoribus per me 
noviter redactam, Sanctitatis vestrae oculis destino 
intuendam " (Registr. Grandissoni, vol. i. fol. 40). 
The book has not been printed, but copies exist 
in the British Museum, the Library of Corpus 
Christi College, Cambridge, in the Students' Library 
of the English College, Rome, and in the Vatican 
(Chr. 623). This compilation also contains the story 
of the Saracen princess, written rather more con- 
cisely than the first Qiiadvilogue. 

The anonymous author of the Lambeth MS. 
{Materials, iv. p. 81) says, " Habuit uxorem nomine 
Roesam,' natione Cadomensem, genere burgensium 
non disparem : " giving a Christian name and nation- 
ality to St. Thomas's mother different from any 
other writer, but agreeing with all the biographers 
in the rank of life assigned to her. St. Thomas 
liimself says, " Non sum revera atavis editus regi- 

I It will have been noticed that St. Thomas had a sister 
named Rohesia [Supra, p. 445). 


bus" {Materials, v. p. 499) ; and again, " Quod si ad 
generis mei radicem et progenitores meos intenderis, 
cives quidem fuerunt Londonienses, in medio conci- 
vium suorum habitantes sine querela, nee omnino 
infimi " [Ibid. p. 515). At least Gamier, who took 
such pains with his " bons romanz," would have 
introduced a tale so well adapted to his " rime en 
cine clauses cuplez," if he had but heard of it. 
He thus disposes of the parentage of our Saint : 

Saint Thomas I'arceueske, dunt precher m'oez, 

en Lundres la cite fu pur ueir engendrez, 

des barons de la cit estraiz e aleuez. 

e Gilebert Beket fu sis pere apelez, 

e sa mere Mahalt. de neite gent fu nez. 

(fol. *4, 1.21.) 

NOTE B (page 19). 


"The Cardinal-Deacon Peter to the Archbishop 
of Canterbur}^— We believe that your lordship is 
aware that the Church of Blessed Mary of the 
Saxons {quce Sassonontm diciUiv) in Rome is appointed 
by the considerate provision of the Roman Pontiffs 
for the reception of the English who visit the 
threshold of the Apostles, that they may here find 
and receive consolation and charitable assistance 
after their various labours, as in a house of their 
own. Through our sins, it has come to such poverty, 
that but a few clerics and hardly any lay person can 
be found to serve the church and attend upon the 
pilgrims. Our Holy Father, Pope Alexander, out 
of compassion for its poverty and misery, has given 
in its favour exhortatory letters for England, which 
you will see. Since we know how ready and willing 
your goodness is in everything relating to piety and 


religion, we much trust in your brotherliness, and 
we pray you in the Lord to receive kindly the bearer 
of these presents, Nicholas, a canon of the aforesaid 
church, and, according to the tenor of the letters of 
our lord the Pope, to vouchsafe at our prayer to 
grant him your letters for reverence of the Mother 
of God. Farewell in the Lord " {Materials, v. p. 64.) 

This is the latest notice of the church of the Saxon 
school with which the writer is acquainted. The 
Bull of Innocent IIL, which erected the hospital of 
S. Spirito, gives to that new foundation " the Church 
of Blessed Mary in Sassia, formerly attached to the 
Saxon school ; " and in the hall of the hospital is an 
inscription commemorating the good deeds of that 
Pope, amongst which is recorded, Angeli inonitu, ex- 
positis infantibiis excipicndis educandisque, liospitiitm in 
vetevi Saxoninn schola designat. 

Ven. Bede [Hist. Eccl. v. 8) relates, that in 727, 
Ina, King of the West Saxons, visited Rome in the 
pontificate of Gregory IL, and that at that time 
many English of all ranks and states of life were 
accustomed to perform the same pilgrimage. Mat- 
thew of Westminster (ad ann. 727, ed. Francof. 1601, 
p. 135) adds, that he founded in Rome "the English 
school, to which the kings and royal family of 
England, with the bishops, priests, and clerics, 
might come to be instructed in doctrine and the 
Catholic faith. And near this house he built a 
church in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in 
which the English might say Mass, and where they 
might be buried, if they happened to die in Rome. 
For the support of this foundation, he enacted that 
the penny called Romescot should be paid from 
every family to Blessed Peter and the Church of 

Matthew Paris (Ed. 1644, p. 19) tells us, that 
OfTa IL, King of the Mercians, in 794, in thanks- 


giving for the canonization of St. Alban by Pope 
Adrian, extended the contribution of Peter's pence 
in behalf of the EngHsh school, qua; tunc Roma: floruit, 
to his province. According to Anastasius Bibliothe- 
carius, this school and church were burnt down in 
817, and Pope Paschal I. rebuilt them; and they 
were again destroyed by fire in the conflagration of 
the Borgo, that the pencil of Raffaelle has rendered 
so famous ; after which they were rebuilt from the 
foundations by Pope St. Leo IV. One of the gates 
of the Leonine city, from which Leo IV. gave his 
blessing to the burning suburb, was called, from the 
neighbourhood of the school, "the Saxon postern," 
Saxonum postcrula ; and the same writer assures us 
that the name of the " Borgo " was derived from our 
countrymen: Pev quorumdam gentis Ajiglornm desidiam 
omnis Anglovum habitatio, qua; in eorum lingua Burgus 
dicituv, flamma ignis comhusta est. 

Passing over the visits of several Saxon kings to 
Rome, by which new privileges were conferred upon 
the national establishment, we find the following 
interesting mention of it in the letter of Pope Alex- 
ander II. to William the Conqueror, in 1068 (Baron, 
ad ann.): Nam ut bene nosti, donee Angli fideles erant,pi(S 
devotionis respedu ad cognitionem religionis anmiam pen- 
sionem Apostolic^ Sedi exhibebant, ex qua pays Romano 
Pontiflci, pars Ecclesia S. Maries qua vocattiv ScJiola 
Anglorum in usnm fratrum defevebatur. 


NOTE C (page 43). 


Lord Campbell, in his Lives of the Chancellors (i. 
p. 68) says, "The Chancellor overruled their scruples, 
and compelled them to pay up their arrears " of the 
tax substituted for personal service. " Upon this, 
the heads of the Church uttered the most violent 
invectives against him. Foliot, Bishop of London, 
publicly accused him of plunging a sword into the 
bosom of his mother, the Church ; and Archbishop 
Theobald, his former patron, threatened to excom- 
municate him. Becket still showed an entire indiffer- 
ence to ecclesiastical censures, and established 
Henry's right to personal service and scutage for all 
the lands held by the Church." Then follows an 
exaggerated account of the Battle Abbey con- 
troversy. Archbishop Theobald's sole threat of 
censures the reader will find mentioned in the text, a 
sportive threat that if the Chancellor did not return 
to England, he would lay him under anathema, and 
confiscate all the revenue he derived from Canter- 
bury ; and Foliot (who was not Bishop of London 
until St. Thomas ceased to be Chancellor), if he 
wrote the letter which contains the passage Lord 
Campbell refers to, did so long afterwards, when 
St. Thomas was in exile for opposing the King. This 
IS not the only instance in which Lord Campbell has 
made a most unjustifiable use of this letter. Any 
one reading this passage would conclude that the 
violent invectives were uttered by " the heads of the 
Church " at the time ; whereas it is years afterwards, 
when every conceivable accusation was heaped 
together against St. Thomas, that they are met for 


the first time, and then only in a doubtful letter of a 
single Bishop. 

The letter in question evidently never reached 
St. Thomas's hands, or he would have answered it, 
as he did all the others. It is a very specious ex 
parte pamphlet, and so imscrupulous, that Mr. Ber- 
ington {Henry II. p. 657) considers that it is unjustly 
attributed to Gilbert Foliot. "Who in the world is 
so stupid," it says, " as not to know that you bought 
the dignity of Chancellor for several thousand marks? 
. . . Our father Theobald died ; and you, who had 
ever been on the watch for this event, immediately 
returned from Normandy to England." Theobald 
died on the i8th of April, 1161, and the election was 
in May, 1162. "When we saw that the Church of 
God was overpowered, we spoke out in defence of 
her liberty ; we had straightway a sentence of pro- 
scription passed against us, and we were cruelly 
doomed to exile ; and not our own person merely, 
but our father's house and all our relations and 
connections." In answer to an assertion made by 
Gilbert in another letter {Materials, v. p. 412) of the 
opposition made to the election, John of Salisbury 
wrote {Ibid. v. p. 161 ; Froude, p. 591): "I do not 
mind the lies which he has dared to insert concerning 
your election, for I was present, and both heard and 
saw. He alone was not pleased when you were 
elected ; for, above every one else, as then appeared 
and still appears, he aspired to be placed in 3'our see. 
Yet he did not dare to speak against it for long, 
while the others found fault with his ambition and 
insolence. W^hatever, therefore, might be his inmost 
thoughts, of which God is the judge, he was amongst 
the first who voted for you ; and when your election 
was made, he applauded it, almost more than they 



Mr. Berington (Haiiy II. p. 663) considers that 
Foliot, if he was the writer of the pamphlet, 
has confused together the Councils of Clarendon 
and Northampton, attributing to the former the 
violence of the latter ; but there was quite vio- 
lence enough at Clarendon to justify so far the 
account given by him. The most singular part 
of the letter is the tone in which it speaks of the 
King's proceedings. It condemns St. Thomas, not 
for resisting them, but for not resisting them suffi- 
ciently. Not merely does it blame him for being the 
cause of the submission of all the Bishops at Claren- 
don, but it attacks him for giving up the immunity 
of the clergy by giving sureties at Northampton for 
the payment of the fines. As might be imagined, 
the letter is not consistent, and at once brings ever}^ 
accusation, even though one answers the other. Lord 
Campbell has chosen to attribute to St. Thomas the 
exclamation at Clarendon : "It is ni}^ master's 
pleasure that I should forswear myself, which I 
resolve to do, and to repent afterwards as I may " 
{Chancellors, i. p. 75). Surely he should have told 
his readers, that his sole authority for his assertion 
was this production of a bitter enemy, and that even 
of this, doubts of the genuineness have been enter- 
tained. It is certainly not contained in Alan's collec- 
tion of the correspondence, nor in the Vatican MS. 
from which Wolf's edition of Alan's collection was 
taken, though, singularly enough, it is twice named 
in the index of that MS. ; but it is given by Dr. 
Giles from two MSS., both in the Bodleian (Douce, 
287, part 2, n. 18, and Cave, 249, n. 447). Canon 
Robertson, in the fifth volume of the Materials, p. 
521, gives the further authority for it of the Cot- 
tonian, Claud. B. II. in the British Museum. 

It is greatly to be regretted that Canon Robertson, 
who has generally been quick to correct Lord Camp- 


bell's unfairnesses, should, in his Beckct, a Biography, 
which Vv'as published in 1S59, have put the same 
exclamation into the mouth of the saint that Lord 
Campbell had adopted : and, to make the matter 
worse, he has subjoined this note. " Dr. Lingard 
attempts to throw discredit on this statement [that 
St. Thomas confessed himself to be guilty of wilful 
perjury] on account of the source from which it 
comes — the letter or pamphlet of Foliot. But even 
if that letter were a forgery, the accounts of the 
biographers bear it out in all essential points as to 
the occurrences at Clarendon, except that the letter 
named Jocelin of Salisbury as having stood firm 
with the other bishops, whom it accuses Becket of 
deserting" (p. loi, note b). This can be met only 
by repeating that Foliot's letter is the sole authority 
for this speech. Canon Robertson gives in his text 
these words. " At length the Archbishop was moved, 
he withdrew for a short time for consideration, and 
on returning said to his brethren, ' It is the Lord's 
will that I should forswear myself ; for the present I 
submit, and incur the guilt of perjury, to repent 
hereafter as I may.' " These words he has not found, 
nor anything like them, in any one of the biographers. 
In order to complete all that need be said of 
Lord Campbell's blunders, it may be well to add 
here a letter by John of Salisbury to St. Thomas 
with Lord Campbell's comment on it. 

This letter (Materials, v. p. 161) begins with an 
account of the dispositions in which John of Salis- 
bury found King Louis, which were not encouraging. 
It then proceeds thus : " Wherefore my counsel and 
the height of ni}^ wishes is, that you should turn to 
the Lord with all your mind, and to the help of 
prayer. Put off meanwhile, as much as you can, all 
other occupations ; for though they may seem very 
necessary, what I now recommend is to be preferred 


as more necessar}'. Laws and canons are very good ; 
but, believe me, there is no need of them now, for 
they rather promote curiosity than devotion. Do 
you not remember how it is written, that in the 
trouble of the people the priests and ministers of the 
Lord shall weep between the porch and the altar, 
saying, ' Spare, O Lord, spare Thy people ? ' 'I was 
exercised,' says the Prophet, ' and I swept my spirit, 
searcliing with my hands for God, in the day of 
tribulation.' Who ever rose with a feeling of com- 
punction from the study of law or the canons ? I 
say more than this : the exercises of the schools 
sometimes increase knowledge till a man is puffed 
up, but seldom, if ever, inflame devotion. I would 
rather that you meditated on the Psalms, or read the 
moral books of St. Gregory, than that 3'ou philoso- 
phized in scholastic fashion. It is good to confer on 
moral matters with some spiritual man, b}' whose 
example you may be inflamed, rather than to study 
and discuss the disputatious articles of secular 
learning. God knows in what sense, with what devo- 
tion I propose these things. Take them as you 
please. But if you do them, God will be 3'our helper, 
that you need not fear what man may scheme. He 
knows that we have no mortal to trust to, as I think, 
in our present trouble. But I have heard that the 
King of France has spoken to the Pope for you, and 
has thanked the monks of Pontigny." He then refers 
to a rumour he had heard of earthquakes at Canter- 
bury, London, and Winchester ; mentions how some 
English Bishops were taking advantage of the Arch- 
bishop's absence to usurp some of his peculiars in 
their dioceses ; and he concludes with an offer of the 
Bishop of Chalons to give a refuge to one of the 
Saint's clerics, who " must behave himself modestl}', 
like the people of this country." 

Lord Campbell refers to this letter in the fol- 


lowing wonderful note {Chancellors, i. p, 79, note 
q): "John of Salisbury wrote him a private 
letter in a still severer strain, concluding with the 
words, ' Take it as you please ' — ' Vos accipiatis 
ut placet ; ' and was excommunicated for his pains." 
His lordship has confused the faithful John of Salis- 
bury, who wrote the letter, with the notorious John 
of Oxford, Archdeacon of Salisbury, who was excom- 
municated — though not, certainly, for writing a letter 
like this. 

NOTE D (page 47). 


Though the story of the lawsuit between the 
Bishop of Chichester and the Abbot of Battle is 
far too long for insertion in the text, it is but right, 
as St. Thomas was so much concerned in it through 
his official position as Chancellor, that we should 
put it in our readers' power to acquaint themselves 
with its details. For this purpose we have recourse 
to the Chronicle of Battle Abbey, excellently edited 
for the Anglia Christiana Society in 1846, and trans- 
lated into English by ]\Ir. Lower in 1851. The 
Chronicle embraces no years from the foundation 
of the abbey, that is, from 1066 to 1176. 

The Abbey of Battle was founded in honour of 
St. ^lartin, by King William the Conqueror, on the 
spot where the Battle of Hastings was fought, in 
suffrage for the souls of those who died there, and in 
thanksgiving for the victory there gained. Its royal 
founder conferred upon it many privileges, especially 
of exemptions from burdens, and amongst other 
grants in the act of its foundation occur the words : 


" Let it be free and quit for ever from all subjection 
to bishops, and from the rule of all persons whatever, 
as is Christ Church at Canterbury." 

Hilary had not long succeeded to Seffrid in the 
See of Chichester, when he began to try to extend 
his jurisdiction over the exempt Abbey of St. Martin 
at Battle. His claims were that the Abbot should be 
blessed in the Church of Chichester, having first 
made his profession of canonical obedience to it ; 
next, that the Abbot was bound to attend the 
Diocesan Synod ; and further, that the Bishop had 
the right of lodging in the Abbey and its manors, by 
which latter claim he hoped in time to subject it 
altogether to himself. The Abbot, on his side, with 
all patience and humility, pleaded the exemption in 
the Act of Foundation, which bore the signatures of 
Lanfranc the Primate, and Stigand, the Bishop of 
Chichester. The Bishop, however, hoped to be 
successful through the favour of Pope Eugenius and 
of Archbishop Theobald. 

In the time of King Stephen, the Bishop began 
the strife by summoning the Abbot to his Synod, 
and on his non-appearance he punished him with 
suspension, unless he should make satisfaction within 
forty days. When this came to the x\bbot's ears, he 
immediately complained to the King, whose Court 
was at St. Albans, who sent Robert de Corneville, 
one of his clerics, to the Bishop, w^arning him to 
leave the Abbe}' as free as the chapel royal itself. 
The contending parties were cited to appear before 
the King in London, in the presence of the Bishops 
and Barons, but on the appointed day the Bishop 
was not present. The charters and grants were 
produced and read, and in the Bishop's absence the 
King decreed the exemption of the Abbe}-. 

Thus matters remained during the life of King 
Stephen. Immediately on the King's death, which 


occurred October 28, 1154, Hilary summoned the 
Abbot to his Synod once more, and on his non- 
appearance he excommunicated him in solemn 
council. One of the Brothers of the Temple hast- 
ened with the news to London, where, by Arch- 
bishop Theobald's advice, the Abbot was waiting for 
the new King's arrival, wnth his brother Richard de 
Luci, a nobleman whose name often appears in the 
history of St. Thomas. On this Theobald sent a 
message to the Bishop by Salamon, one of his 
clerics, to the effect that the Abbot was absent at his 
bidding, and that the Bishop should withdraw the 
sentence until they could meet. This Hilary accord- 
ingly did. 

In 1 155, the first 3"ear of King Henry's reign, in 
the Council which was held in London, in Lent, 
some Bishops and Abbots brought forward their 
charters to have them confirmed by the King ; and 
amongst the others was the Abbot of Battle. The 
Bishop of Chichester hastened to Archbishop Theo- 
bald, and warning him that the liberties and digni- 
ties of Canterbury and Chichester were in danger, 
requested him to interfere. The King, " 3aelding to 
the wishes of so eminent a personage, by whom he 
had so recently been invested with his sovereignty," 
ordered the Chancellor not to put the Great Seal to 
the charter of Battle Abbey. The day following the 
Abbot went to Court, but as the King was going 
out to hunt, he returned to his dwelling-house at 
Battlebridge, in Southwark. On the third day he 
went to Westminster, where he found the King 
before the altar, about to hear Mass. After the 
Introit, he went up to the King, and said : " My 
lord, your Excellency ordered that the charter of our 
Church was to be confirmed with the royal seal : 
why it is now refused, I do not know : let your 
clemency command that the royal word be kept, and 


not overthrown by any one's envy." Tlie Chancellor^ 
was then summoned, and the King ordered him to 
place the seal to the charter ; but while he was yet 
speaking, the Bishop, guessing what was going for- 
ward, hurried up, and said : " INIy lord, 3'our clem- 
ency must remember that the day before yesterday 
the venerable Archbishop of Canterbury and myself 
laid a complaint before you of the Abbot of Battle, 
who is seeking for charters against the dignities of 
our Churches, so that if his subtlety prevails, the}' 
will lament the loss of those rights which they have 
canonically possessed hitherto. Let your royal 
dignity therefore prohibit its having any confirma- 
tion, lest through his example others should rise 
against their Bishops." The King, however, ordered 
the charter to be sealed, and bade the Bishop and 
Abbot, together with the Chancellor, to appear 
before the Archbishop, when, if the matter could 
not be arranged, the charter was to be left in the 
chapel royal in the keeping of the Chancellor, until 
the King's pleasure should be known. When the 
Mass had been sung as far as the Pax Domini, the 
Bishop took the Pax as usual to the King, and after- 
wards, to the astonishment of many, to the Abbot 

The Chancellor accordingly accompanied the 
Bishop and the Abbot to the Archbishop at Lam- 
beth, before whom the charter of King William the 
Conqueror was read. At the clause declaring the 
Abbey to be as free from all jurisdiction of Bishops 
as Christ Church, Canterbury, there was a great out- 
er}', some declaring it to be against the canons, 
others against the dignities of Canterbury, while 
others said that the words were " frivolous." Hilary 

2 We thus learn from the Chronicle that St. Thomas was 
appointed to the chancellorship within the first few months of 
Henry's reign. 


not finding the names of any of his predecessors to 
attest the grant, and holding the clause to be un- 
canonical, declared that it ought to be erased by the 
authority of the judges there present. The Arch- 
bishop was of the same opinion. Although the 
opposition of the Abbot was but reasonable, they 
would not rest quiet. When the Chancellor per- 
ceived the difference of opinion amongst them, he 
carried off the Abbot's charter to the chapel royal. 
The Abbot returned home, and the Bishop rejoiced 
as if he had won the day. 

The Abbot, however, took the opportunity of a 
Parliament which was held in the summer of the 
same year, in order to receive the submission of a 
noble rebel, called Hugh de Mortimer, to renew his 
petition for his charter, and owing to the interest of 
Reginald, Earl of Cornwall, and Richard de Humet, 
" the King's Tribune," who were members of his 
council, and friends of Richard de Luci and of his 
brother the Abbot Walter, the petition was suc- 

[3 The Abbot took leave of the King with thanks, 
retired from the Court with his charter, and in due 
time arrived at Battle, to the great joy of the 

In the following Lent the Bishop renewed hostili- 
ties by summoning the Abbot to Chichester, and 
there, in the Chapter-house, on Mid-Lent Sunday, a 
long debate ensued between the Dean on the one 
side and the Abbot on the other ; the text being a 
mandate from Adrian IV., the English Pope then 
reigning, to the Abbot to give due obedience to 
Hilary " to whom he had made profession thereof." 
The Dean demanded a written and sealed profession 
of obedience : the Abbot asked for a respite that he 

3 The meaning of these brackets will be subsequently ex- 


might visit and consult the King, "whose chapel 
royal and a pledge of whose royal crown Battle 
Abbey is acknowledged to be." By quiet pertinacity, 
the Abbot carried his point ; and, " having made his 
prayers before the altar of the Holy Trinity there, 
and fortified himself with the sign of the hoi}' Cross, 
he returned home with his friends." 

King Henry had celebrated the anniversar}- of his 
accession at Westminster, and at the beginning of 
1 156, he passed over to Normandy. It was Easter 
1 157 before he returned to England, and, for the last 
six months Hilary, the Bishop of Chichester, had 
been in attendance on the King's Court. On the 
complaint of the Abbot, made through his powerful 
brother Richard de Luci, the King commanded the 
Bishop " that he should permit the Abbot of Battle, 
as his own chaplain, to rest in peace from all com- 
plaints, till he should return to England." 

After landing at Southampton, Henry proceeded 
to Ongar in Essex, which belonged to Richard de 
Luci, and when the Abbot came to meet him there, 
the King summoned him " to attend on the coming 
Whit Sunday at St. Edmund's (where he was then 
to be ensigned with the royal crown)," when, he 
promised him, the cause between him and the Bishop 
should be tried. The Abbot awaited the appointed 
day at his manor of Hon, not far from Ongar.] 

In the year 1157, the King was solemnly crowned 
anew in the third 3'ear of his reign at Bury St. 
Edmund's, in the presence of the prelates, nobles, 
and a multitude of people, on the feast of Pentecost, 
which fell that year upon St. Dunstan's day 
(May 19).-* Hilary, Bishop of Chichester, and 
Walter, Abbot of Battle, were present, having been 
summoned, that their long dispute might be brought 

4 This coronation, Mr. Brewer tells us, is unmentioned by 
any other writer. 


to a conclusion. The cause was adjourned for a few 
days to be heard at Colchester, where the parties 
arrived on Thursday in \Miitsun week. On the 
Friday, the Abbot, with Richard de Luci, went to 
the King, who bade them wait in the Chapter-house 
of the monks for him. ^^'hen the King had heard 
Mass, [he entered the Chapter-house, strictly ordering 
that no one but those whom he should summon by 
name should follow. He then called Thomas the 
Chancellor, Robert Earl of Leicester, Richard de 
Humet the Tribune, Richard de Luci, Warine Fitz- 
Gerald, and Nicholas de Sigillo. There was also 
present a certain physician named Ralph ; and like- 
wise Henry of Essex, the King's Tribune, who had 
been previously sent to the Chapter-house to the 
Abbot by the King. In addition to these, AVilliam, 
the King's younger brother came, and took his seat 
with the rest, near the King. 

All having taken their places, and the Abbot sit- 
ting by with three of his monks, Richard de Luci 
opened the proceedings : stating that the Abbot w^as 
prepared to produce his charters. This the King 
directed should be done, and] Thomas the Chan- 
cellor read the charter of the great King William 
before them. [The King thereupon took the charter 
into his own hands, and having closely examined it, 
deigned to commend it in high terms, blessing the 
soul of that noble King, who had regarded the 
Abbey he had erected with so strong affection as to 
bestow upon it such great liberties and dignities.] 
The Chancellor next read another charter of King 
William upon the personal affairs of the Abbot, and 
[this, in the same manner, the King took and ex- 
amined, and commanded to be put up with the rest, 
and carefully kept. He also declared that if ever he 
himself, under Divine inspiration, should found an 
Abbey, he would prescribe for it similar liberties and 


dignities to those of Battle Abbey. He also ex- 
amined] the charters of the other Kings, namely, 
those of King William the younger, and of King 
Henry [and at the same time, the charter confirmed 
by his own seal, and commanded that they should be 
carefully preserved. Then] the Chancellor looking to 
the Abbot, said, " My Lord Abbot, the Bishop of 
Chichester has, what seems to many, a strong argu- 
ment against you, when he says that you made your 
profession in the Church at Chichester." The Abbot 
protested that he had done nothing against the 
dignity and liberty of his Church. The King, looking 
towards the Chancellor, said, " Profession is not 
against the dignities of Churches ; for they who 
make profession promise only what they owe." 
Richard de Luci, hearing this, again spoke : 

My lord, your Highness has heard the privileges granted 
by the noble King William to his Abbey, which he styled 
Battle, because God had there given him victory over his 
enemies, and which that Abbey — which is your own royal 
chapel, and the pledge of your royal crown — has preserved 
inviolate until now. Wherefore I avow that that Abbey 
ought to be held in high account by you and by all of us 
Normans, inasmuch as at that place the most noble King 
William, by God's grace, and the aid of our ancestors, 
acquired that whereby you, my lord King, at this time 
hold the crown of England by hereditary right, and 
whereby we have all been enriched with great wealth. We 
therefore pray your clemency to protect with the right 
hand of your authority that Abbey, with its dignities and 
libeiiies, in order that it, with all its possessions, may 
remain as free as it has ever been known to be in the 
times of your ancestors. But if this please you not, I 
humbly beg that you will remove my brother the Abbot 
from his place, that the Abbey may not mourn the loss, in 
his time, of the liberties which it had preserved inviolate 
in that of his predecessors. 

And Robert, Earl of Leicester [and others, cried 
out that the King would take equal care to preserve 
this Abbey as he would his crown, or the acquisitions 
of their ancestors] and the King declared that he 


never could bring his mind to permit the Church in 
question to lose its dignities and liberties in his time, 
and that he would speak to the Bishop, and arrange 
all the matter peaceably. 

On the Tuesday after the Octave of Pentecost 
May 28), the King entered the monks' chapter-house 
in the compan)^ of the two Archbishops, Theobald of 
Canterbury, and Roger of York, the Bishops Richard 
of London, Robert of Exeter, and Robert of Lin- 
coln, Silvester, Abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, 
and Geoffrey, Abbot of Holme, Thomas the King's 
Chancellor, Robert Earl of Leicester, and Patrick 
Earl of Salisbury, and amongst the Barons, Henry 
of Essex, Reginald de Warenne, Richard de Luci, 
and Warine FitzGerald, together with a great number 
of commoners, Hilary and Walter were also present. 
When a dispute between Archbishop Theobald and 
Abbot Silvester, of much the same character, had 
been decided, Richard de Luci rose and made a 
speech to the King in his brother's behalf, in much 
the same words as before. 

[The Abbot then expressed himself as ready to 
answer all objections that might be alleged against 
the privileges of Battle, "which is your own free 
chapel, and the pledge of your crown ; " but he 
prayed that the charter of the Conqueror, granted at 
the foundation of the Abbey, might be first read.] 
When this had been done by one of the clerics 
present, Thomas, the King's Chancellor, said to the 
Bishop of Chichester : 

My lord Bishop, your charity has heard what has been 
here done before our lord the King, in the hearing of all 
present. And now if it pleases your prudence to make 
answer against these things, it is lawful for you to do so : 
for to you, as it seems to us, this parable appertaineth. 

The Bishop then rose, and thus began : 

With no desire of wandering, as many have, but from 
our love and honour towards you, my lord the King, and 


knowing nought of this opposition, have we come with 
others here present into these parts of the kingdom. 
Wherefore if it should please you and the Abbot and the 
others who are before you that a peaceful arrangement 
should be made by your mediation, between myself and 
the Abbot, saving the right of our Church of Chichester, 
it might be done. For, therefore, am I come hither. 

But when some refused a compromise, saying that 
the matter had been so long pending, that it ought 
to be definitely settled, the Bishop, in a loud voice, 
amidst a strict silence, resumed : 

Since you have rendered a peaceful compromise impos- 
sible, I will expound before the King and all here 
assembled the rights of the Church of Chichester, and the 
previous state of the question. 

Jesus Christ, my lord King (and then repeating himself) 
our Lord Jesus (and saying the same a third time) hear all 
of vou and understand, Jesus Christ our Lord appointed 
two mansions and two powers in the constitution of this 
world, the one spiritual and the other temporal. The 
spiritual is that of which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to 
our first Pastor, Peter the Apostle, and his successors, 
saying, " Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my 
Church." So your charity knows that from the earliest 
times the custom has prevailed in the Church of God, 
that the Pastors of the Church being the Vicars of the 
same Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, shall preside in 
due I'ule over Holy Church. Hence in those blessed 
Apostles to us who preside over the Church of God, was it 
said by our Lord Jesus Christ, He ji7;o hears you, hears Me. 
So also the Roman Church, adorned with the Apostolate 
of the same Prince of the Apostles, hath held through the 
breadth of all the world so great and magnificent a 
princely dignity that no Bishop and no ecclesiastical 
person can, without its judgment and permission', be 

To this the King said, holding out his hands : 

It is most true that a Bishop cannot be deposed, but he 
can be driven out by hands held thus. 

Everybody laughed, and the Bishop went on 
again : 

What I said before, I now repeat. The Roman Law 
proves that this state of the Church has been so appointed 


from ancient times, and that no lay pei'son, not even a 
King, can give to Churches ecclesiastical dignities or 
liberties, or confirm the same, except by the permission of 
the same Father. 

Then the King got angr)-, and said : 

Dost thou think with thy subtle cunning to strive for the 
Pope's authority icJtich luas given him by man, against the auth- 
ority of royal dignity which was given me by God ? I bid 
thee by thy fealty and oath of allegiance to submit to right 
reason thy presumptuous words, which are contrary to my 
crown and royal dignit)-. I beseech the Archbishops and 
Bishops who are present, saving the right of my royal 
crown given me by the Supreme Majesty, to do me right 
justice on thee ; for thou actest, it is plain, against my 
royal dignities, and thou art working to take away from 
the King's majesty the liberties of old rightfully granted to 

A murmur arose amongst the people against the 
Bishop, which could hardly be suppressed. Then 
the Chancellor : 

[It is not worthy that it should] have dropped from the 
memory of your heart, venerated Bishop [whose excel- 
lency] for you against our lord the King, to whom, 

beyond doubt, [you made] the oath of allegiance. Where- 
fore your prudence must provide. 

The Bishop, seeing that the King was offended, 
and that all were against him, as soon as the mur- 
mur was quieted, continued his speech thus : 

My lord, if anything has been uttered by my mouth 
offensive to your royal majesty, I call the Lord of Heaven 
and your royal dignity to witness, that I have not said, 
with studied cunning, anything against you or the excel- 
lence of your dignity. For I have by all means had the 
highest regard for j'our paternity, extolled your excellency, 
magnified your dignity, and ever loved you with the most 
hearty affection as my dearest lord. May your Royal High- 
ness then, I pray, suspect no evil in me, nor easily believe 
any one who suggests it. I wish to diminish nothing of 
your power, which I have always loved and magnified with 
all my might. All that I have said has been to the honour 
and glory of your Highness. 


To this the King answered : 

Far be such honour and glory from us and ours, and 
away with all by which, as all can see, you try in your soft 
and deceitful speech to annul what has been granted to 
me, by the help of God's grace, by the authority of the 
Kings, my predecessors, and by hereditary right. 

Then said the Bishop : 

All things, my lord, which in your hearing have been 
pronounced by me, by your leave, and that of all here 
present, I now bring to an end. And since my preface 
does not please, omitting these things, we will despatch 
the business in a few words. 

Hitherto we have given our account of this con- 
troversy, almost in the words of the chronicler. It 
has been of importance to give our report in full up 
to this point, but it will not be necessary to do more 
than give a summary of the conclusion of the dis- 
cussion, which runs to a length worthy of a modern 
Chancery suit. 

Hilary's speech stated that the Abbot had been 
present at his consecration and installation, that he 
had attended at a Synod, and had received him as 
his Diocesan at a Visitation. Henry of Essex inter- 
rupted him with, "And now you repay evil for the 
good services he showed you!" The Bishop resumed 
with an account of how the controversy had arisen 
by the Abbot's refusal to attend a subsequent Synod, 
and that when the see of London had fallen vacant, 
the Abbot thought that he had interfered to prevent 
his advancement. Henry of Essex and Richard de 
Luci both protested that the Abbot's desire for the 
bishopric had been in no way unworthy or simon- 
iacal. The Bishop continued his statement of the 
case by recounting how he had been summoned 
before King Stephen on this question, but that the 
Abbot had not appeared, and how, finally, at the 
expiration of the year, he had excommunicated the 


Abbot for his contumac_y. This sentence he had 
relaxed at the Archbishop's request. " If so," said 
Henry of Essex, " you did that after King Stephen's 
death which you would not have done in his lifetime. 
What the King is now about to do belongs to his 
prerogative." The Bishop concluded his speech by 
referring to all that had happened since the King's 
accession, complaining in every respect of the Abbot's 
conduct, and praying the King " to order the ancient 
and rightful institutions of the canons to be con- 
firmed between us in all things, and to decide these 
matters in accordance with the customs of the 

To this the King replied, " We have heard a state- 
ment which has much surprised us, that you, my 
lord Bishop, esteem as frivolous, the charters of the 
Kings, my predecessors, confirmed by the lawful 
authority of the Crown of England, with eminent 
men as witnesses." This word "frivolous" — pev- 
emptorias^ — was used when the matter was argued 
before the Archbishop at Lambeth, and St. Thomas 
seems to have reported it to the King. 

The Abbot then handed in King William's charter, 
and pointed out that it was confirmed by the attesta- 
tion of Archbishop Lanfranc and of Stigand, then 
Bishop of Chichester. In it, it was specified that 
the Abbot should not be bound to attend the Synod, 
though he might do so voluntarily. The Bishop 
said that he had never seen this charter, and on the 
Abbot commencing a reply, the King interrupted 
him : " From henceforth it is not for your prudence 
to make good your claim ; but it becomes me to 
defend it, as my own royal prerogative." After much 

5 In giving this singular meaning to the word, Mr. Lower 
(pp. 83, III) is borne out by a passage given by Ducange from 
the Statutes of Liege of 12S7. Cum judex viderit aliqxiam partium 
per exceptiones frivolas, dilatorias et peremptorias litem protrahen. 



further talking, at the suggestion of Richard de 
Luci, and with the King's permission, the Abbot 
retired to another part of the chapter-house to con- 
sult with his friends, who are enumerated, and prove 
to be nearly all the influential persons present : Roger 
Archbishop of York, Thomas the King's Chancellor, 
John Treasurer of York, Robert Earl of Leicester, 
Patrick Earl of Salisbury, Henry of Essex, Reginald 
de Warenne, Warine FitzGerald, and some other 
barons, and a considerable number of knights. The 
King, in the meantime, went into the church to hear 
Mass, and this being over, returned to his seat, and 
Thomas, the Chancellor, was called upon to deliver 
judgment — as, from its effect, we suppose we must 
st3'le what certainly reads more like the speech of 
an advocate. 

He began with a little sarcasm of the Abbot's 
thankfulness for the account the Bishop had given 
of the hospitalit}^ he had received at the Abbey. He 
admitted the fact of the Abbot's- presence at the 
consecration, installation, and Synod, but he said it 
was from no ecclesiastical obligation, as the charter 
proved : it had been at the command of the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury. Theobald hereupon acknow- 
ledged that he had given such a mandate. As to the 
sermon in the chapter-house at Battle, a Bishop 
from Ireland, or from Seville, might have done the 
:same. In the matter of the see of London, the 
Bishop's conscience must have suggested suspicions 
that the Abbot never entertained. The Abbot averred 
that he attended before King Stephen in the King's 
chapel at the Tower of London, and that the 
Bishops of Winchester and Ely were present, and 
heard the King's confirmation of the charters. He 
could not have been excommunicated by the Bishop, 
the Chancellor argued, for when hearing Mass with 
the King at Westminster Abbey, he had given the 


Pax to the Abbot after the King had received it. 
" For this, if I have done wrong," apologized Hilary, 
" I will confess my fault to the Archbishop, and do 

The Chancellor then spoke of letters of Pope 
Adrian IV., commanding the Abbot to attend at 
Chichester. The King, on hearing of this, demanded 
with evident signs of anger, whether the Bishop had 
procured them. The Bishop declared that he had 
not, and that they were sent by the Pope, who was 
our countryman, Nicholas Breakspeare — as the 
Abbot had defamed him in Rome, and thus had 
procured them against himself. The Archbishop, 
hearing this denial, made the sign of the Cross in 
token of astonishment. The Chancellor demanded 
whether there were an}- other letters that could affect 
the Abbey of Battle, and the Bishop solemnly 
affirmed that there were none. 

Archbishop Theobald now addressed the King : 
" Will your Excellency command us to retire and 
determine these matters according to the legal 
method of ecclesiastical custom ? " " Nay," said 
the King, " I will order 3'ou to determine them in my 
presence, and after due deliberation / will decide." 
So saying he arose and retired to the cemetery of 
the monks, the rest, except the Bishop and the 
Abbot, accompan5ang him. After some consultation, 
the King sent for the Bishop, and after much discus- 
sion, the King commanded Henry of Essex to bring 
in the Abbot and the monks. The Bishop then 
solemnly liberated and " quit-claimed " the Abbey of 
Battle, as a chapel royal, of all the rights he had 
hitherto maintained — that he had not, nor ought to 
have any authority over it — and that he absolved the 
Abbot as having been unjustly excommunicated by 
him, and finalty, he declared him, from that day for 
ever, free from all episcopal exactions and customs. 


" Is this done of your own free will, and not by 
compulsion ? " demanded the King. The Bishop 
replied: "I have done this of my own accord, 
induced by considerations of justice." After this, on 
Theobald's proposal, the kiss of peace was given by 
the Bishop to the King, the Abbot, and Richard de 
Luci. And now, with the rejoicings of the Abbot, 
and the list of the witnesses to the final arrangement, 
the chronicler brings to a close his account of this 
memorable suit. 

The reader will have seen, with the liveliest sur- 
prise, the speech put by the chronicler into the 
mouth of the angry King, to the effect that the 
Pope's authority was of human origin, while his 
own royal power was Divine, — a phrase absolutely 
without parallel in the records of that age, — and he 
wull ask whether the sentence is genuine, or at least 
on what evidence it rests. We now proceed to 
examine the MSS. of the Chronicle, and in so doing 
we will direct our attention to the speech of King 
Henry to which we have just referred, and to the 
short speech in which St. Thomas reminds Hilary 
of his oath of allegiance, the fragmentary state of 
which is most tantalizing. 

The MS. from which Mr. Brewer has printed his 
edition of the Battle Abbey Chronicle is a beautiful 
parchment MS. of the latter part of the twelfth 
century, or, in other words, dating from the very 
time when its record closes. It is in the Cottonian 
Library in the British Museum — Domitian II. It 
is remarkable for two erasures — one in each of the 
two speeches we have now under consideration. In 
the King's speech, the words attributing a Divine 
origin to his own autliority are given, but not those 
which in the narrative above speak of the Pope's 
power as human, and are given in italics. Conse- 
quently, in Mr. Brewer's edition and in Mr. Lower's 


translation those words do not appear, and the for- 
mer gentleman supposed that the gap had once been 
filled with some profane Norman oath, erased by 
some puritanical hand. 

We were not quite without knowledge of this 
portion of the history of Battle Abbey, even before 
the whole of it was printed by the Anglia Christiana 
Society. Spelman, and after him, Wilkins,^ had 
published long ago the greater part of this portion 
of the narrative ; but singularly enough, the extract 
given by them has not been collated by Mr. Brewer, 
and seems to have been entirely overlooked by him. 
The manuscript from which Spelman printed is also 
in the Cottonian Library (Vitellius D. vii. fol. 152). 
It suffered much in the fire, but it is perfectl}^ legible. 
It was written by Joscelyn, whom Hearne7 calls 
" Archbishop Parker's Domestic Antiquary," and 
the true author of the lives of the Archbishops of 
Canterbury that appeared under Parker's name. 
That Spelman printed from it, is clearly seen by a 
comparison, the last sentence in Joscelyn being scored 
out, and printed by Spelman with the note Scqueiitia 
tenui linea canccllantnr. 

The twelfth century IMS. is very much more full 
than Joscelyn, as the reader will at once see by 
observing what large portions of the narrative we 
have given between brackets. All these portions 
are omitted by Joscelyn, but in the King's speech 
is found the phrase given by us in italics, in the 
place of the erasure in the old MS. Joscelyn has 
underlined it, perhaps because it was marked for 
omission in the MS. he copied. The other gap exists 
exactly as it once did in the old MS., ending even with 
the same part of a word — tis. 

6 Spelman, Concil. Orbis Bvitan. (Lond. 1644), vol. ii. p. 53 ; 
Wilkins, Cone. Magn. Britan. (Lond. 1737), vol. i. p. 427. 

7 Rob. de Avesbury (Oxon, 1720), p. xxiii. 


At first sight it would seem from this that the 
erasures in Domitian II. had been made at two 
different periods, the one before and the other after 
the transcript was taken, and that the copyist had 
omitted some of the speeches for the sake of short- 
ness. This is, however, very improbable. The 
clause respecting the Pope's authority is not likely 
to have been erased since Parker's time ; and as to 
the other gap, though Joscelyn has exactly the gap 
that Domitian II. once had, as we have said, even 
to the half word, it is not a copy of the present state 
of this speech. We believe that Joscelyn did not 
copy from Domitian II. at all : and that the erasures 
in the latter were made by the hand that wrote it. 
Of the latter point a careful examination of the 
MS. leaves us in little doubt. 

The speech of St. Thomas, the appearance of 
which in the MS. has convinced us that the erasure 
is as old as the MS. itself, ran originally thus : 


re elaboras. Murmure itaq in poplo contra 
epm ccitato vix sedari potuit. Tunc cancell 
A cord vri excidisse memoria psul venande 

a line erased 
tis eni in dnm nrm rege, cui fidem sacramtu 
erasure Unde prudentie vre pvidendu 

The scribe then erased the "A" in the third of 

these lines, and the "m" of "fidem" in the fifth; 

and he wrote partly in the margin and partly over 

the erasure of the fourth line, as well as over the 

erasure of the sixth, so that the MS. now stands 

thus : 


re elaboras. Murmure itaq in poplo contra 
epm ccitato vix sedari potuit. Tunc cancell 
Haut dignu e a cord vri excidisse memoria psul venande 
cui' excellentifi 

tis eni in dnm nrm rege. cui fidei sacramtu 
vos fecisse nulli dubiii e. Unde prudentie vre pvidendu 


These amendments are in the same hand as the 
rest of the MS., but the colour of ink shows clearly 
where the writing is over an erasure. The word 
" excell-entiam " is half on the margin and half over 
the erasure. 

From this examination we have come to the con- 
clusion that the original which Joscelyn copied was 
not Domitian II., but a transcript taken from it, 
while it was in the state of transition which we have 
here first given, and before it received the partial 
amendments which we now find in the MS. The 
gap ending with the part of the word "pcccat'is" (if 
that was the word) renders it very difficult to doubt 
that it was from this MS. Joscelyn's original was 
derived : and the erasures in this speech having been 
made by the scribe himself render it exceedingly 
probable that the erasure in the King's speech was 
made by the same hand. This seems to us to prove 
that we have but one report, and that the reporter 
in these two instances doubted the accuracy of his 
narrative. We should certainly not place much 
confidence in the genuineness of a sentence in a 
judgment, if the shorthand writer himself were to 
erase it from his notes. In all probability the itali- 
cized words in the speech of Henry II. once stood in 
the MS., but it is exceedingly improbable that even 
that irascible monarch ever spoke them, blasphemous 
as his speeches sometimes were in his anger. This 
the compiler of the Chronicle felt, and he has erased 
it. This being the case, it would be futile for us to 
attempt to complete by conjecture the fragmentary 
speech attributed to St. Thomas. If a sentence 
once correct has been corrupted in transcription or 
erased in part since it left its author's hands, some- 
thing may be done in the way of restoration by 
plausible conjecture : but what can be done when 
the writer himself does not know how to complete 


his sentence ? There is, however, no reason in the 
world that we should assume that the missing line 
here was of a similar character w'ith the erased 
line in the King's speech ; in fact, the words ciijiis 
exccllcnfiam require something complimentary to the 

In estimating the value of the Chronicle as an 
historical record, we must bear in mind that it is a 
thoroughly ex parte statement. It was written by a 
religious of the Abbey, the privileges of which were 
at stake : and it is the account we might expect from 
one of the three monks w^ho accompanied the Abbot 
to Colchester, and who sat by his side and shared 
his anxiety in that Chapter Houste. As a partisan, 
the writer was consequently anxious to make the 
Chancellor, St. Thomas, speak as much in favour 
of the Abbot, and against the Bishop, as possible. 

Before we leave this point of the trustworthiness 
of the Chronicle as evidence, one further considera- 
tion must be duly weighed. St. Thomas himself, 
when in exile, mentions this very controversy in a 
way which Mr. Hurrell Froude considered^ to be 
fatal to the authority of the Battle Chronicle. In a 
letter to the Pope, 9 the Saint meets the accusation 
that the troubles of England were to be imputed to 
himself by citing the proofs of tyranny and oppres- 
sion of the Church which had taken place before his 
cw^n promotion to the archbishopric. After several 
instances he says: "And how did the Bishop of 
Chichester succeed against the Abbot of Battle, 
when, in virtue of apostolic privileges, having named 
and denounced the Abbot in Court as excommuni- 
cate, he was straightway compelled to communicate 
with him before them all, without an}' absolution, 

S Fronde's Remains, pt. ii. vol. ii. p. 576. 

9 Lupus, bk. 4, ep. 14. vol. ii. p. 648; Giles, ep. S. Thomsc, i. 
p. 54 ; Froude, p. 34S ; Supra, p. 292. 


and to receive him to the kiss of peace ? For so 
it pleased the King and the Court, whom he did 
not dare to contradict in anything. And this, Most 
Holy Father, happened in the time of 3'our pre- 
decessor and of ours." This does not read like the 
statement of the man who had taken the part as- 
cribed to him by the Chronicler of the Abbey. 

We will not only leave it to the reader to say how 
far these considerations affect the credibility of the 
narrative we have placed before him, but we will 
ask him also to judge what view should be taken of 
the conduct of St. Thomas. We will content our- 
selves with summing up what it seems to us may 
be said for and against him, if the correctness of the 
report of the Colchester trial be assumed. 

Against him, it may be and has been said, that 
his principles respecting ecclesiastical independence 
of the royal authority were verj^ different during his 
chancellorship to what they were when he previously 
held a purely clerical office under Theobald, or sub- 
sequently, after his own elevation to the primacy. 
In this instance, the Bishop of Chichester had the 
authority of a letter from Pope Adrian IV., which 
enjoined the Abbot of Battle to submit and obey ; 
he had Archbishop Theobald on his side, who, when 
the matter was referred to him by the King, declined 
to give judgment in the Abbot's favour, and who is 
evidently anxious all through the controversy, that 
the King should permit a purely ecclesiastical cause 
to be tried " according to the legal method of eccle- 
siastical custom : " while the sole argument against 
the Bishop was a Charter of William the Conqueror, 
no Papal confirmation of which was alleged : and 
3'et the Chancellor delivered judgment against the 

For the line of conduct followed by St. Thomas as 
Chancellor in this affair there is more to be said than 


at first sight appears. Pope Adrian had said to the 
Abbot, " It has come to our knowledge that you 
refuse due obedience to our venerable Brother Hilary, 
Bishop of Chichester, to whom you have made pro- 
fession thereof." The very foundation therefore of 
the Pope's judgment rested on a misrepresentation, 
which was that the Abbej^ was not exempt, and 
that the profession of obedience was therefore abso- 
lute. The exemption of the Abbey w^as expressly 
assented to by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
and Stigand, the Bishop of Chichester, at the time 
of its erection, and in the original Charter of the 
Conqueror, which is confirmed by the anathema 
against its violators, not only of these prelates, but 
also of one of no less venerable a name than St. 
Wulstan, then Bishop of Worcester. The canon 
law was not as express in its enactments then as it 
was after its codification into the Corpus Jiiris a 
century later by St. Raymund of Pennafort. The 
reservations to the Holy See were by no means as 
explicit. An archbishop received his pallium from 
Rome, and then his powers were very little short of 
what, in our time, w^e should consider patriarchal. 
The Holy See exercised its higher jurisdiction by 
Legates, and on every point appeals were carried 
to Rome in the last instance ; but subject to these 
limitations the power of an archbishop was hardl}^ 
restricted, and his acts, unless overruled, were held 
to be canonical if they did not go counter to the 
decrees of Synods or to ecclesiastical tradition. It 
is not to be wondered at that he who could confirm 
the election of a bishop and consecrate him to his 
see without reference to Rome, could also, especially 
when in conjunction with the bishop of the diocese, 
give exemption to an abbey from episcopal control. 

There are, besides, viewing this transaction by the 
light of modern canon law, two points well worthy 


of consideration. The privileges of royal chapels 
are well known, and it is to be remarked that the 
argument most frequentl}' brought forward in the 
controversy was that Battle Abbey was a Dominica 
Capella. And next, all canonists acknowledge in a 
founder the power even of derogating from the canon 
law in the act of his foundation. Conditions that 
he might ask for in vain when the act was completed, 
a founder might impose of his own authority before 
the transfer to the Church was carried into effect. 
It was for the Church to choose whether she would 
accept the foundation so hampered ; and in the case 
of Battle Abbey, the Church was a party to the 
conditions imposed in the Conqueror's Charter. We 
are therefore inclined to regard the opposition of the 
Bishop of Chichester and the manifest tendencies of 
Archbishop Theobald, not so much as zeal for eccle- 
siastical liberty as jealousy of monastic exemption. 
When St. Thomas afterwards in his exile came to 
refer to this matter, it was to blame the King for 
having compelled a bishop to give the kiss of peace 
to an abbot whom he had excommunicated, and not 
for having, by an encroachment on a Papal privilege, 
exempted an abbey from episcopal jurisdiction. The 
conclusion now arrived at was never afterwards dis- 
puted, but received all manner of subsequent eccle- 
siastical sanction, for not only is Archbishop Theo- 
bald's confirmation of the exemption of the Abbey 
extant, but we have similar confirmation by Popes 
Honorius and Gregory, which recite the recognition 
of the rights of the Abbey by Bishop Hilar}^ in the 
presence of Henr}' King of England, of illustrious 
memory, and of Theobald the Archbishop, his Me- 
tropolitan and Legate of the Apostolic See ; which 
recognition the Archbishop confirmed by apostolic 
and metropolitical authority. '° 

10 Chi-on. de Bello ; Appendix ex Registvo dc Bello, p. 187. 


We have said nothing of the temper King Henry 
displayed on this occasion, a temper worthy of the 
Norman monarchs and of Henry Plantagenet. It 
was cunningly fostered b}'^ Richard de Luci, the most 
powerful nobleman of the Court, and the brother of 
the abbot whose cause was at stake. Nothing could 
have been suggested more certain to move the King's 
irascibility than the insinuations that the attack on 
the Abbey was to be attributed to English jealousy 
of this great monument of the Norman Conquest, 
and that it was therefore a proof of disloj'alty to the 
King himself. Little wonder when the King had 
silenced the Abbot b}' saying that he would be 
spokesman for him, that Roger de Pont I'Eveque, 
the Archbishop of York, should be fovmd in consulta- 
tion with the Chancellor, whom, years before, he had 
nicknamed " Clerk Baillehache," and on the side of 
the regular against the secular, though he so hated 
religious himself that he used to say that his pre- 
decessor Thurstan had never done a worse thing 
than when he built Fountains." Considering the 
circumstances, the Chancellor, who was by his office 
the mouthpiece of the King, spoke most temperately 
in his concluding speech, even according to an ex parte 
report. He answers in detail the various arguments 
adduced by the Bishop, but he in no way claims 
the right to decide the matter by secular authority. 
After he had concluded, the King having been irri- 
tated anew by mention of the letter of Pope Adrian 
which the Bishop had obtained without his consent, 
declares that he, and not the Archbishop of Canterbur}^ 
shall decide the cause; and it is brought to an end by 
the quiet-clamatio, or quit-claim, of the Bishop himself. 
We cannot, however, wonder that the remembrance 
of scenes such as this, in which the Chancellor found 
himself powerless in the presence of his jealous and 
II Chron. Wiiltcvi dc Ilcmiiighurgh (Histor. Soc.) vol. i. p. 119. 

THE chancellor's POLICY. 557 

violent master, should have led him to the well- 
known conclusion, that if he were, by virtue of his 
office, bound to defend the liberties of the Church, 
the love between them would speedily be turned to 
hatred. " I knew," he said, when the King offered 
him the archbishopric, "that j^ou would require 
many things, as even now you do require them, in 
Church matters, which I could never bear quietly ; 
and so the envious would take occasion to provoke 
an endless strife between us." 

NOTE E (page 49). 

THE chancellor's POLICY. 

Two contemporar}^ documents express an opposite 
view to that given in the text, and it is but right 
that the reader should have the opportunity of 
forming his own judgment. Of these two passages, 
one has been often quoted, but it does not seem to 
furnish much ground for an unfavourable view of 
the conduct of St. Thomas while Chancellor towards 
the Church ; the other, which has not been referred 
to by modern writers, is very much more to the 
point, and if it stood alone, would go far to settle 
the matter unfavourably. The first is the passage 
in which John of Salisbury rhetorically contrasts the 
treatment St. Thomas received when he was Chan- 
cellor and a man of the world, and that which he 
met with when Archbishop and thoroughly eccle- 
siastical. In it the writer may have been led by 
his rhetoric to strengthen his antithesis. The letter 
{Materials, vi. p. loi) was written by John of 
Salisbury to his friend Baldwin, Archdeacon of 
Exeter, and in it this passage occurs : " What do 
they now persecute in the Archbishop of Canterbury, 


except that in the sight of kings he has dared to 
uphold God's justice, defend the law, and protect 
the liberty of the Church ? Certainly when he was 
a splendid trifler in the Court, when he seemed to 
despise the law and the clergy, when with the 
powerful he followed the follies of the world, he 
was held to be a great and famous man, pleasing 
to everybody, and he was proclaimed by one and 
all as the only one quite fit for the archbishopric. 
But from the moment when he was made a Bishop, 
and, mindful of his condition and profession, he 
chose to show that he was a priest, and preferred 
to take the Word of God for his master rather than 
the world, he has become their enem3s telling them 
the truth and correcting his life : and thus they fill 
up the measure of their fathers, who for like reason 
persecuted the Prophets and Apostles, persecuting 
yet the martyrs of Christ, that is, the witnesses of 
truth and justice." 

A much stronger expression is to be found in one 
of the miracles recorded by Benedict [Materials, ii. 
p. 163). Henry of Houghton, one of St. Thomas's 
clerics, reports a conversation that took place after 
the martyrdom between himself and a nobleman, 
who during the Saint's life had been one of his 
opponents. It would appear from the context, in 
which Newington, where miracles were wrought, is 
spoken of as his manor, that the nobleman in 
question was Richard de Luci, Justiciar of England. 
He said that he should have had difficulty in believ- 
ing the miracles attributed to St. Thomas, unless 
he had seen one of them with his own eyes. A 
priest with whom he was well acquainted, had long 
been paral3'zed in his right arm, so as not to be 
able to raise his hand to his mouth. He had 
thus for some years been unable to say INIass, 
but after a visit to Cantcrburv, he not only could 


perform his priestly duties freely and quickly, but 
when the esquires and servants were throwing 
weights, he beat them all by throwing the weight 
the furthest. " Now, Henry," the nobleman con- 
tinued, "how do you account for this? None of 
us was harder on the Church of God than he was, 
when he was Chancellor, and now he excels all the 
saints in the calendar in the number and greatness 
of his miracles." Henry of Houghton might have 
pleaded, Benedict says, the holy Martyr's hard and 
most holy life, but he preferred to take a lower 
ground.' "Which is worst," he asked, "to deny 
Christ or to be hard on the Church, as you accuse 
yourself or the Saint of being ? And if tears washed 
away Peter's crime ; if confession of guilt and short 
penance took the thief to Paradise before the other 
saints ; what will not seven years of exile, violent 
despoiling of his goods, banishment of his relations, 
imprisonment of his friends, his hair-shirt, and most 
of all, this cruel death, its cause, its time, and its 
place, have done for the anointed of the Lord and 
the champion of the Church?" The nobleman 
acknowledged that the answer was satisfactory, and 
thanked him for it, saying that "he would not have 
had that tumour rooted in his heart for twenty 
pounds." The story is not remarkable precisely 
because Richard de Luci, if it Avere he, took that 
view of St. Thomas's life, but because Prior 
Benedict and Henry of Houghton do not deny 
the wrong done of old to the Church, regarding 
it as atoned for by his subsequent life. Such testi- 
mony should be taken at its full worth, but it must 
be remembered that no facts are quoted to counter- 
balance the plain and convincing facts given in the 
text, chiefly from Fitzstephen, who certainly had 

I It is not easy to see how Benedict's proposed answer differs 
from that given by Henry. 


no interest in making out the Saint to have been 
consistent all tlirough his hfe in liis allegiance to 
the Church. 

Undoubtedly the King thought that St. Thomas 
would not oppose him in his oppression of the 
Church, in spite of the Saint's outspoken declaration 
to the contrary, or he would not have urged his 
appointment to the Archbishopric. And this belief 
of Henry's must have been due to St. Thomas's 
conduct as Chancellor, where his duty was simply to 
do his best under difficult circumstances. Indeed 
Roger of Pontigny [Materials iv. p. 14) saj's expressly 
that " Thomas of set purpose showed himself as if he 
were very severe on ecclesiastical persons and things 
so to avert from himself any mark of suspicion and 
to be able better under this cloak to meet [and 
counteract] the King's intention, which he thoroughly 
understood. The King then, believing that he could 
best fulfil his purpose against the Church through 
him, whom he had found to be most faithful to him 
in all things, and very prone to his intentions, firmly 
resolved that he should be made Archbishop of 
Canterbur}'." Our question is not, What did the 
King expect of St. Thomas ? The answer to that is 
plain enough. Our question is, In what sense did 
St. Thomas, when Chancellor, justify Roger of 
Pontigny 's statement that he showed himself " as if 
he were very severe"- — quasi severissimum — on eccles- 
iastics? Roger himself gives the answer [Ibid. p. 12) 
when he speaks of the Saint's chancellorship. " And 
though the King had already conceived the idea [of 
the oppression of the Church] that he afterwards 
carried out, yet meanwhile under Thomas's pro- 
tection the state of the Cliurch remained safe 
and quiet, for he frustrated in all things the evil 
intentions of the King and the covert plots of the 
courtiers, but cautiously and as it were secretly, lest 

THE chancellor's POLICY. 561 

he might be open to suspicion." This means that 
he did not put forward his churchmanship, but 
substantially, and in all important matters, pre- 
vented any harm being done to the Church ; and 
this is the very opposite to the statement that, 
when Chancellor, St. Thomas was an open per- 
secutor of the Church, that on the strength of 
this severity, he was made Archbishop, and that 
he then suddenly changed his policy. We may 
safely say that St. Thomas did what Theobald 
expected and hoped of him when he recommended 
him to the King. That Theobald should have 
recommended one who would, with great prudence 
and moderation, avert evil that he feared, surely 
does not deserve the hard title of " confessedly 
an ecclesiastical plot," given to it by Mr. Magnusson 
in his Preface (p. xcix) to the Icelandic Thomas 
Saga. The passage that calls forth this comment is 
here appended, as it is probably derived from Prior 
Robert of Cricklade. It is further interesting for 
the curious statement that the Archdeacon of 
Canterbury was King Henry's Chamberlain for a 
short time, before he was made Chancellor. 

"The King was still a youth, yielding an open 
ear to his councillors, who were both overbearing 
and not of the most righteous in their ways, froward 
withal, and nowise men of any great prudence. 
Now whereas there stand many ready to break 
the barge of St. Peter, the Archbishop was fain to 
find a man who might steady the craft somewhat, 
lest it should go adrift to utter wreck. But the 
craft of the elected ones for the Kingdom of Heaven 
is Holy Church, the which, it may well be said, 
was disabled by William Rufus, first of all men in 
England, but after his day things went on as if the 
kings went along hand in hand towards the fire, 



when as each dragged the right and the freedom 
of the Church headlong under the Crown. But for 
this place one so difficult to fill with a fit person to 
stand between the authority of God's laws and the 
grasping greed of the King and his men, the Arch- 
bishop seeth no one likelier than Archdeacon 
Thomas, he being proven in manifold wise a man 
of wisdom and good will. And to wise folk it will 
be clear enough that the Archbishop putteth a 
dissembling face upon his device when he setteth 
it forth to tlie King to take Thomas into his Court. 
And herein the Archbishop did rightfully, in that 
such is a holy craft which harmeth no one, yet 
increaseth the glory of God. Now it cometh to 
pass that the blessed Thomas betaketh him for awhile 
away from Canterbury and entereth the King's 
Court a second time. At this time it is recorded 
that by the tale of his age he was even thirty and 
eight years old, having been in the Archbishop's 
Court for fifteen winters. Thus for a time he 
putteth away the service of an Archdeacon and 
taken thereinstead to kingly attendance and courtly 
manners. And now it becometh his concern to 
keep watch of the King, when he sleeps as well as 
when he sitteth in his seat, with all heed and good 
will. No long time passeth by ere the King judgeth 
wisely this Thomas worthy of a higher honour than 
having this simple service to give his heed to, and 
therefore he leadeth this friend of the Lord into a 
station whicli is called the chancellorship" (pp. 


NOTE F (pages 195, 196). 


Oye, a village three leagues and a half N.E. of 
Calais, and about a league from Gravelines, was 
in existence as far back as the Roman occupation 
under Julius CfEsar. In 12 16 Renard Count 
of Boulogne ceded Oye to Philip of France, on 
occasion of the King's marriage to his daughter 
Matilda. At the request of the Duchess of Burgundy, 
daughter of the King of Portugal, two conferences 
were held at Oye to establish peace between France 
and England, which were followed by the truce 
concluded at Tours in 1446 and by the marriage 
of Margaret of Anjou with the King of England. 
In 1347, as a consequence of the capture of Calais 
by Edward III., the English took possession of the 
fort of Oye, and they held it till 1436, when the 
Duke of Burgundy took it, and it was destroyed 
by the Duke of Guise in 1558 [Notice historique sur 
Vetat ancicn et moderne dit Calaisis. Par M. P.J. M. 
Collet. Calais, 1833). 

Eldemenstre is the name that Herbert of Bosham 
tells us (p. 331) the inhabitants gave to a hermitage 
of St. Bertin. The place, now called St. Momelin, 
is a small village about four kilometres from Clair- 
marais and five from the town of St. Omer. It 
was there, on the little river Aa, that St. Omer in 
626 established in the first instance the three saints, 
St. Bertin, St. Momelin, and St. Ebertian, and as 
St. Momelin was the oldest of the three, St. Omer 
made him the Superior. After the foundation of 
St. Bertin's Abbey, the beautiful ruins of which 
still adorn the town of St. Omer, the original founda- 
tion was known by the name of Vieux Moustier, 


Vetiis monastcrium, and this is evidently the interesting 
Flemish word Eldcmenstrc preserved by Herbert of 
Bosham. The river Aa, in Latin Agnio, on which 
St. Thomas passed from Clairmarais to St. Momelin, 
was familiar enough in the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries to the students of the English 
College of St. Omer, as their country house called 
Blendecque was upon it, and so, lower down the 
river, was the village of W'atten, on the height above 
which was the Novitiate of the English Jesuits. 

Many places in the Low Countries claimed the 
honoiir of having been visited by St. Thomas, but 
it is not easy to see when such visits can have taken 
place. L'Abbe Destombes, in his Vies des Saints 
(Cambrai, 1852, tom. iv. p. 167), enumerates a long 
list. He begins with Bourbourg as having been visited 
before the Saint went to Clairmarais. Then he states 
that he left at the Monastery of Anchin a chasuble, 
a dalmatic, a little tunicle, and a cope, green in 
colour : while to Marchiennes he gave a pallium and 
a cross adorned with pearls and relics. It is plain 
that St. Thomas was not in a position to make 
costly presents, either on his exile or when he passed 
through the Low Countries again on returning to 
England. These however may well have been vest- 
ments that were used by him, which, on account 
of the veneration in which they were held, were 
brought to the great monasteries for preservation. 
At Marchiennes there was a manviscript Pontifical, 
which is now in the Public Library at Douai, No. 94, 
on the first page of which a librarian of Marchiennes 
Abbey has written, " Pontificale hoc ad usum eccle- 
siarum anglicarum recepisse nos a S. Thoma Cantu- 
ariensi traditione constanti habemus." At Arras in St. 
Anthony's there was an inscription in old characters, 
" Icy Saint Thomas celebra messe certainement." 
Near the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the same 


town a fountain was called St. Thomas's, the water of 
which was regarded as a specific against fever. In the 
Church of St. Vaast in Arras a chalice of pure gold, 
said to have been used by the Saint, was long pre- 
served. After Dixmude, where a chasuble and 
chalice still exist, St. Thomas is supposed to have 
gone to the Monastery of Auchj^-les- Moines near 
Hesdin, where the religious had an especial vene- 
ration for their Abbot's oratory, as the Saint had 
said Mass there. At Blang}', where he is said to 
have gone next, a gold ring was kept in which a 
large topaz was set. The only reason for saying 
that St. Thomas was at La Motte-au-Bois is that 
an altar was there dedicated to him, in which some 
of his relics were enclosed. That he was at Lille 
is asserted in an inscription still existing on the 
front of No. 8, Rue d'Angleterre : " Sancto Thomae 
Cantuariensi hujus aedis quondam hospiti sit laus, 
honor et gloria." In the church of Beaucamps- 
en-Weppes a wooden porringer was kept tliat 
St. Thomas had received from a countryman to 
quench his thirst on his journey. The religious of 
St. Nicolas-des-Pres at Tournay had a tradition that 
they had been visited by the Saint. At St. IMedard 
in like manner the}' claimed the honour of having 
had St. Thomas as a guest, and a dark red chasuble 
left by him there was afterwards in the Cathedral of 
Tournay. In the Cathedral windows the martyrdom 
of St. Thomas was depicted, and an altar was 
erected in his honour in 1171, which, if the date 
be correct, was before his canonization. Its place 
was between the columns in the fifth bay, and its 
three chaplains, Baldw'in Hamdis, Arnold de Gand, 
and William de Vacques, are said to have founded 
it. Stephen the Bishop of Tournay calls St. Thomas 
in his letters olim dominum d amicnm. All these details 
are taken from Destombes. 


NOTE G (page 397). 


Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, and William de 
Vaux were excommunicated by the Pope, who by 
letter {Materials, vi. p. 550) dated from the Lateran, 
July 7, 1 166, ordered St. Thomas to proclaim the 
excommunication with lighted candles. As the 
name of William de Vaux is not mentioned in the 
list of those excommunicated at Clairvaux [Supra, 
p. 310), he probably withdrew from his position 
and was absolved. On the 22nd of April, appar- 
ently of the year 1167, the Pope (Ma/^rm/5, vi. p. 557) 
empowered the Bishops of Winchester and Worcester 
to absolve the Earl of Norfolk under certain con- 
ditions, but if these were not fulfilled he was again 
to be excommunicated, and after a 3'ear of obstinac)^ 
his land was to be interdicted. That he did not 
amend is clear, as we find his name among the 
excommunicates of Clairvaux. 

The cause of this censure was that the Earl and 
William de Vaux took possession of Pentney, which 
belonged to the Canons of Pentney. The Pope 
commissioned Gilbert Foliot, in the first instance, 
to obtain restitution. This he did, he says {Ihid. 
p. 548), with the help of the King's intervention ; 
but the whole matter was brought as an action by 
the Earl of Norfolk before the King in person at 
Oxford, in January or February, 1166, and the Prior 
of Pentney, we may well imagine how, was brought 
to assent to a compromise which was very unfavour- 
able to his community. Against it protest was made 
by the Canons, and both parties appealed to the 
Holy See. The Pope's decision was against the 


Earl of Norfolk, and his obedience was enforced by 
sentence of excommunication, as we have seen. 

The matter is memorable on account of two letters 
{Materials, vi. pp. 545, 553), one from the Bishop of 
London to the Cardinal William of Pavia, and the 
other from Pope Alexander to King Henry. The 
difference of principles between the two is very 
striking, and this was in 1165, when Gilbert Foliot 
would still claim to be a good churchman. 

" I have received the Pope's command to straitly 
summon Hugh Earl of Norfolk, and unless on 
admonition he restores to the canons of Pentney 
the village of Pentney and all that they complain 
has been taken from them, to place him and all his 
land under interdict, and then unless he repent 
within forty days, to excommunicate him without 
delay. But in this we have been gravely opposed 
by the royal authority, for the King asserts that it 
belongs to the supreme dignity of his kingdom, that 
when he is ready to give full justice to any one who 
has a complaint about lands or fiefs against one of 
his earls or barons, neither the Archbishop nor any 
bishop of his kingdom may place him under inter- 
dict or excommunication. This he declares his 
predecessors have held up to the present time by 
assent of the Roman Pontiffs, and he reminds us 
that all the bishops of his kingdom have confirmed 
it to him by oath, so that he requires of us that we 
should stand by antiquity, and not diminish the 
privileges of his crown by leaving what we have 
sworn to. He supports by heavy penalties what 
his authority commands. We are therefore in 
straits, so that unless the Pope shall mercifully 
relax his mandate, we must either incur the peril 
of disobedience, which God forbid, or the King's 
reproach of perjury and breach of fealty. I had 
rather I had never been a bishop than have incurred 


either one or tlie other. Both swords are heavy, for 
one kills the soul and the other the body ; the first 
is the heavier sword, but the second strikes more 
heavily. And what utility will there be in my blood 
to my dearest lord the Pope, if I go down into the 
misery of being held to be a perjurer or of becoming 
disobedient? — which again may Heaven forefend. 
If I do not obey his Holiness it is death to me ; 
if I do obey him, nothing remains for me but to 
quit the kingdom, the laws of which I break, fealty 
to the King of which I desert. If the cause were 
one that merited death or exile, I should rejoice 
that by my banishment or death I should show the 
Pope good service. But is the cause of six Brothers 
of Pentney, living miserably without any observance 
of rule or order, such that, because some few acres 
have not been restored to them, a question on the 
eminence of their dignities should be raised between 
the Supreme Pontiff and his old friend — by God's 
help his firm friend in the future— the King of 
England ? Especially as in this cause each side 
may easily have its rights, and this disturbance 
may be brought back to peace and justice. If the 
King be allowed he will straightway determine the 
cause by the covmsel of the Bishops and other 
prudent men. If the Pope delegates judges, Earl 
Hugh will not refuse to abide by their sentence." 

Gilbert clearly shows how the Constitutions of 
Clarendon practically worked. A few sentences 
from the Pope's letter to Henry will show how far 
Gilbert Foliot's position was from that of the Holy 
See. " Though your filial devotion to us and your 
mother, Holy Church, seems to have grown some- 
what cold, we have never withdrawn our paternal 
affection from you or the kingdom you govern. 
Your Serenity knows that the blows of a friend 
are better than the kisses of an enemy. Consider 


then more carefully and see, that as clerics are dis- 
tinguished from seculars in life and habit, so the 
judgments of clerics are altogether different from 
the judgments of laymen. If 3^ou upset that order 
and usurp the things of Jesus Christ, making new 
laws at your pleasure to oppress the Church and 
Christ's poor, bringing in customs that you call 
ancestral, you yourself beyond all doubt, in the 
Last Judgment which 5'ou will not be able to avoid, 
will be judged in like manner, and with the same 
measure that you have measured withal, it shall be 
measured to you. . . . We especiall}^ commend to 
your royal magnificence the Brothers of the church 
of Pentney, and their goods and possessions, which 
your lieges Earl Hugh and William de Vaux, laying 
aside the fear of God, have occupied, contrary to 
their own writings and concessions, and therefore we 
have excommunicated them by Apostolic authority 
and separated them from the Body of Christ, that 
is, the Church. By these Apostolic writings we 
pray, admonish, and exhort your Serenity, and for 
the remission of your sins we order you, for the 
love of God and the reverence of St. Peter and 
of ourselves, to maintain, protect, and defend these 
Brothers, the church in which they serve God, and 
their goods and possessions, and preserve them 
against the invasions of your subjects by your royal 
protection, that you may deserve happily to obtain 
an eternal reward from Almighty God and to be 
helped by the prayers of the Brothers and of all 
the other religious of your kingdom. And avoid 
the men who are thus excommunicated, for as 
leprosy spreads, so the same penalty extends from 
those who do wrong to those who consent thereto. 
And further, we greatly wonder that you unlawfully 
made the Prior of these Brothers, without their 
knowledge and assent, give over to the Earl in your 


presence the possessions of his church whicli were 
entrusted to him for improvement, not for injury, 
contrary to the authentic writings of the Popes our 
predecessors ; for in this you have without doubt 
gravely offended God and have no httle injured His 
honour and glory. This concession by the Prior, 
which by the Canons is void, we by Apostolic 
authority do altogether annul, and declare to have 
no force for the future." 

NOTE H (page 398). 


A monk of Westminster was on a visit to the hoi}- 
hermit of Finchale, who asked him one day whether 
he knew Thomas, "the new Archbishop of Canter- 
bury." The monk replied that he knew him, and 
added, " And do 3'ou know him, sir ? " St. Godric's 
answer was, "With my bodily eye I have never seen 
him, but with the inward eye of my heart I have 
often seen him, and I know him so well, that if now 
I were to see his face, though no one were to tell 
me, and he were to be placed amongst many persons 
whom I did not know, I should recognize him im- 
mediately." The monk not making any remark, 
St. Godric continued : "I wish to send him some 
secret messages, if you will be my messenger." His 
companion expressed readiness, provided there was 
nothing wrong in the message. The old man smiled, 
and said that he hoped his injunction would be good. 
" When you see him," he said, " remember, I praj- 
you, to salute him in the name of poor Godric, and 
say that he must steadily persevere in carrying out 
those things which he has resolved to do, for all the 
things he has resolved are most pleasing and accept- 


able to Almighty God. Yet he will sufter very great 
adversit}^ and he will ver}' soon be driven into exile 
from England ; he will for some time remain a 
stranger and a sojourner in foreign lands, until the 
period of his appointed penance is fulfilled. At 
last he will return to England, to his own archi- 
episcopal see, and he will then be loftier in dignity 
than when he left England. For that Archbishop 
and Malcolm King of the Scots, of all the rich men 
between the Alps and the furthest limits of Scotland, 
are the two who will be most pleasing and acceptable 
to God. And King Malcolm will receive from God 
the penny of the heavenly reward. Now, when you 
have told him this, I beg you to send me by some 
one his absolution of my sins, written and sent me 
by him." "Why do you ask his absolution," in- 
quired the monk, "seeing that you are not of his 
flock?" " I know that it will benefit me," said St. 
Godric, " and therefore I ask you to send it to me." 
The monk marvelled at this conversation, for St. 
Thomas had not been verj' long Archbishop, and 
people did not think that he had seriously lost the 
King's favour. On his return he went with his 
Abbot to St. Thomas at "Warrennes Stanes," near 
Windsor, and when our Saint had heard St.Godric's 
message, he made inquiry from the Abbot respecting 
him. "I recommend you," said the Abbot, "to 
receive his message with gratitude, for he often 
foretells things to come." The next morning St. 
Thomas wrote to him, sending the absolution he 
had asked for, and recommending himself to his 
fatherly prayers. Within three months of the pre- 
diction, the biographer of St. Godric tells us that 
it was fulfilled by the exile of the Saint. 

When St. Thomas had spent some years in exile, 
the same monk, being once more in the neighbour- 
hood, consulted St. Godric respecting it. " The 

^ OF THE \ 
-. .i-'crv V 


Archbishop of Canterbury lias now been a long 
time in exile, and there seems to be no possible 
hope left of a reconciliation, for we have heard that 
so many adverse things press upon him, that we are 
afraid he will never again return to England." "Yet 
a little while longer," replied St. Godric, "will he 
suffer his exile, for he has not yet passed his time 
of penance. Then the King will permit him to return 
to his see in Kent, with greater power and honour 
than when he went into exile." 

This was the message of which St. Thomas was 
reminded on the day before his passion. 

There is another similar narrative in another part 
of the same Life, which from the interest of being 
thus enabled to link two English saints together, we 
may be permitted to give at equal length. Reginald, 
the monk of Durham, who wrote the Life, speaks 
here in the first person. 

" It was now mid-Lent, and the vigil of St. Cuth- 
bert's day had come (March 19), on which his monks 
from all parts are accustomed to meet in chapter 
for the feast. And since I had kept half my Lent 
with the man of God (St. Godric), I spoke to him 
about it on the evening before, that I might get his 
leave to say Mass early the next morning and go 
home. As I was about to start after Mass, I knelt 
for his blessing, when he smiled and said, ' Though 
you are in such a hurry to go, it is possible that 
before you leave the gate you may come back again.' 
I went out, and immediately met some Cistercian 
abbots, who made me return, and asked to be allowed 
to speak to the man of God. I Avent in to him, and 
he said with a smile, ' See, how soon you have re- 
turned.' I then thought of his words, and when the 
interview with the abbots was over, I returned to 
ask his leave to depart : he gave it me with his 
blessing, but he added, ' If you go now, before you 


get out of the garden fence, you may be obliged, 
however unwilhngl_v, to return again." I did not 
give much consideration to his prediction, but I 
started for Durham as quickly as I could. But 
before I was clear of the place, a Brother in grey 
met me, who called upon me in the name of the 
Holy Trinity to stop and hear his message ; and he 
commanded me in the name of the lord Thomas 
Archbishop of Canterbury, then in exile, that in 
virtue of the Holy Spirit and of obedience, I should 
tell no man what he was about to tell me, until I 
saw the end. This I promised. Having received 
the message of the lord Archbishop to the servant 
of God, I returned into his cell, and timidly and 
anxiously I began to consult him on some text of 
Scripture. He saw that there was something that 
I wished to sa}- to him, and so he said : ' You always 
treat me like an unlearned person with your circum- 
locutions : say briefl}' and plainly what you are 
thinking of, and I will willingly answer 3-ou as God 
shall enable me.' 

" Somewhat confused by this truthful and pleasant 
speech, but taking courage, I said that I wondered 
exceedingl}^ wh}' the long altercation between the 
King and the Archbishop had not been brought to 
an end by the mediation of some of the nobles. He 
answered : ' Because both of them did wrong in the 
gift and the receipt of that dignity, and therefore the 
Lord hath chastised them both with the rod of their 
own fault : but the Lord's clemency can bring good 
out of men's evil, and give a good end to evil begin- 
nings.' Then speaking freely I told him all. ' Sir,' 
I said, ' a messenger from the eixiled Archbishop of 
Canterbury is outside, and binding me by the au- 
thority of the Archbishop and by solemn pledges, 
he has told me that he has come here as his secret 
messenger, so secretly that scarcely any even of his 


domestics were aware of it, for if he were taken by 
the King's officials, he would certainly be punished 
with death. His lordship of Canterbury ordered 
him to give his precept in a secret manner to which- 
ever of the monks of Durham he found in attendance 
upon 3'^ou. So in his name and as his messenger, 
and in the name of the Holy Trinity, he bade me 
secretly to go to you, whom he called the servant of 
God, and tell you his message. Three times you 
have sent to the Archbishop the knowledge of secret 
and future things, in each of which he has found you 
to be a true prophet in the Spirit of the Lord ; for in 
each of them the end has come to pass as you have 
oretold. In the name of the Holy Trinity he ad- 
ured me to ask of you how long this dissension will 
ast, when he will be in accord with the King, and 
whether he shall ever return to England, or what the 
end will be ; for on these points he is very anxious. 
Now he prays you as a father, he adjures you as a 
fellow-soldier, he asks of you as an ancient servant 
of the Lord, to tell him by me the end of all this 
calamity, for he has heard that you have predicted 
of him that within seven years his exile should have 
a happy end, and now those years have all but 
elapsed, and they have brought him sorrow rather 
than consolation.' 

"After a long silence, he replied — 'Three times I 
have sent him secret messages which the Holy Ghost 
revealed to me, and which I felt would come true in 
his regard ; and now tell his messenger who is out- 
side, that when you came to me for leave to go 
home, I foresaw how your journey would be hin- 
dered. Tell him not to be troubled if for a little 
while he have much to suffer, for the longer the trial 
is, the fuller will be the crown, and the light burden 
of this tribulation brings forth an increase of ever- 
lasting beatitude. For within six months peace by 


word of mouth will be made between him and the 
King, but Godric will not then be living here ; and 
within nine months his honours and possessions will 
be restored to him, and he will return to his see in 
Kent, where, not long after, an end shall come to 
him altogether and of all things — an end that shall 
be for his saving good, his joy and perfection ; and 
to many men a remedy of salvation, a help and con- 
solation. Tell these last words of mine frequently 
to his messenger, and repeat them again and again, 
for by the help of the Holy Spirit, as soon as he has 
heard them, the Archbishop will know their secret 
meaning. And there will be greater joy amongst all 
the English for his return than there was sorrow for 
his exile.' 

" I then went out and told all this to his messen- 
ger, but nothing would satisfy him but that he should 
be admitted to speak to the servant of God ; and 
when I had obtained this for him, St. Godric re- 
hearsed to him over and over again w^hat I have 
given above, and repeatedly told him that he must 
remember that in a little w^iile the end of all was 
coming. Having received his blessing we departed 
together, and we understood nothing of the prophetic 
things we had heard. Once more I returned, after 
I had had his blessing, and he said : ' This morning 
you were in such haste to get to Durham ; now you 
will not get there for the Chapter, but you will be 
there by dinner-time,' It happened as he said, and 
finding the monks going to the refectory, his pro- 
phecy came back to my mind. 

" In about two months after this, the man of God 
departed this life, and before the martyrdom of my 
lord of Canterbury none of these words came to my 
memory ; but after the solemn martyrdom of the 
Archbishop's death, then all the ambiguity of the 
prophecy was made clear. For all things happened 


as the man of God had foretold, and the end came 
as the Spirit of God had made known to him " 
(Vita S. Godrici, pp. 293, 297, § 27 — 280). 

Fr, Stevenson, who edited this interesting volume 
for the Surtees Society, remarks that this prophecy 
was uttered in 1170, on the igth of March, that 
St. Godric died on the 21st of May, that it was in 
October that St. Thomas of Canterbury was, " to all 
appearance," reconciled to King Henry, and his 
martyrdom followed on the 2gth December. These 
dates show that Hoveden,' the chronicler, was mis- 
taken when he says that the death of St. Thomas 
was revealed to St. Godric at Finchale, on the day 
on which it happened, for St. Godric, as we have 
seen, predeceased St. Thomas seven months. 

Speaking of the connection between St. Thomas of 
Canterbury and the Saints of Durham, we are not 
aware whether any notice has been taken of a pas- 
sage in the compilation of Thomas of Froimont, 
published by Dr. Giles under the name of Philip of 
Liege. Whosesoever it may be, it is certainly not 
later than the generation next after that of St. 
Thomas, and it contains this anecdote. 

" When he raised from the earth to his shrine the 
blessed Cuthbert, the bishop beloved of God and 
venerable amongst men, and touched each of his 
limbs and his face and all the members of the Saint 
which had suffered no corruption, though six hun- 
dred years had passed, for he had lived a virgin 
from his childhood, famous for holiness and miracles, 
the King asked the Archbishop how he presumed to 
touch all the members of so great a saint ; on which 
the man of God replied — ' Do not wonder, sire, at 

I " Eodem die passio beati Thoma: revclata est beato Godrico 
Anachorita; per Spiritum Sanctum apud Finkhale, qui locus dis- 
tal Cantuaria plusquam per (? ter) centum sexaginta milliaria" 
(Savile, Scviptoies post Bcdain, iGoi, p. 522). 


this, that with my consecrated hands I have touched 
him, for far higher is that Sacrament which day by 
day I, as other priests, handle on the altar, the 
Blessed Body of Christ, which is committed to three 
orders of priests, deacons, and subdeacons ' " [Anec- 
dota Bedo", &c, Ed. Giles. Caxton Soc, 1851, p. 234). 

NOTE I (page 416). 


The north transept, in which St. Thomas met his 
death, has ever since gone by the name of the Mar- 
tyrdom. The entrance from the cloister was then, as 
now, in the south-western corner, adjoining which, 
at the east end of the north nave aisle, was the chapel 
of the Blessed Virgin. The eastern side of the tran- 
sept consisted, first of the flight of steps leading up to 
the north choir aisle, which St. Thomas was as- 
cending on his way either to the high altar or to the 
patriarchal chair behind it, when he was induced to 
return to the transept by the voices of the knights. 
Next to these steps upward were the steps that led 
downward to the crypt. This arrangement remains 
undisturbed on the opposite side of the church. 
There was then a small space of wall between the 
crypt stairs and an apse in which was the altar of 
St. Benedict. It was with his back to this wall that 
the Saint stood at his martyrdom, and it was here 
that the altar " at the sword's point " was afterwards 
placed. In the middle of the transept was a column 
which supported a low vaulting over the corner of 
the transept, and above this was the chapel of St. 

William of Canterbury says that the Saint had a 



statue of our Blessed Lady before him as he stood 
with his back to the wall. Hahcns a lava pratviam 
crucem suam, a tcrgo paridem, prcB sc bcafa; Maria Virgmis 
iconiam, civcmnqHaquc mcmorias et fcliquias sanctorum 
(p. 132). Grim, describing the Saint's position as he 
turned to the right under the column in the midst of 
the transept, says that he had on one side of him 
the Lady Altar, and on the other the altar of St. 
Benedict. Divcrtit in dcxtram sub columna, liinc habens 
altare bcata Dei Genitricis et perpetucB Virginis Maria, 
mine vera sancti confessoris Bcnedicti (p. 436). The dis- 
tinct mention of a statue by William of Canterbury, 
who knew the place so well, seems to indicate that, 
at the back of the altar of the Blessed Virgin in the 
nave aisle, there was a statue facing across the tran- 
sept, standing probably upon a column. Of this 
column we have apparently mention made by Leo 
von Rotzmital, who came to England as Bohemian 
Ambassador in 1446. He speaks of columna ante 
sacellum Genitricis Dei,jnxta qiiam orare, et colloquio bcata 
Virginis [quod a multis visum et auditum esse nobis certo 
affirmabatur) pcrfrui solitus est (Stanley's Canterbury, 
p. 266). He calls it a column before the chapel of 
the Blessed Virgin, while a statue, to have been seen 
by St. Thomas, must have been behind the Lady 
Altar ; but a visitor, standing in the transept, might 
well speak of a column that was between him as he 
stood and the altar, as before that altar. The new 
Lady Chapel, on the site of the chapel of St. Bene- 
dict, was built by Prior Goldstone L, between 1449 
and 1468, just after Leo's visit, so that the Lady 
Altar in the nave aisle had not yet been removed. 
It is worth noting that Erasmus calls the little altar 
at the sword's point an altar of the Blessed Virgin. 
A column behind the old Lady Chapel would have 
been before this ; but it seems more probable that 
Erasmus was mistaken in calling the altar at the 


sword's point a Lady altar, and that the column 
belonged to the Lady Chapel in the nave. 

Dean Stanley takes this view. "The site of the 
older Lady Chapel in the nave was still marked by a 
stone column. On this column — such was the story 
told to foreign pilgrims " (and liere he refers to Leo 
von Rotzmital) — " had formerl}^ stood a statue of the 
Virgin, which had often conversed wnth St. Thomas 
as he prayed before it. The statue itself was now 
shown in the choir, covered with pearls and precious 
stones " {Canterbury, p. 225). Dean Stanley was not 
acquainted with William of Canterbury, whose nar- 
rative bears out this part at least of the local tradi- 
tion, that on that column there was a statue of our 
Lady. But Leo does not say that the staUie had often 
conversed with St. Thomas, but that the Blessed 
Virgin had done so. 

It may be well to remark that Dean Stanley, fol- 
lowing Mr. Gougli Nichols, attacks as a "mistaken 
tradition, repeated in books, in pictures, and in 
sculptures, that the Primate was slain whilst praying 
at an altar " (p. 103). And in a note he says : " The 
gradual growth of the story is curious — (i) The post- 
humous altar of the martyrdom is represented as 
standing there at the time of his death. (2) This 
altar is next confounded with the altar within the 
chapel of St. Benedict. (3) This altar is again 
transformed into the high altar ; and (4) in these 
successive changes the furious altercation is con- 
verted into an assault on a meek unprepared wor- 
shipper, kneeling before the altar." 

As to the attitude of kneeling, an artist might 
perhaps be justified in selecting that posture if he 
thought fit, as Fitzurse's third blow brought the martyr 
on his knees first, and then on his face. Tertio perciisstis 
martyr genua flcxit et ciihitos (Grim, p. 437). Positis 
primo genibus, conjunctis et extensis ad Dciim manibus (Fitz- 


Stephen, p. 141). Orantis instai',junctis manihns et flexis 
genihus (Herbert, p. 506). 

Next, as to the "furious altercation" and the 
" meek worshipper," the onl}' resistance St. Thomas 
made was at the attempt of Fitzurse to drag him 
from the church. He did not so much as raise a 
hand to ward off a blow, and all remark that he met 
his end like a man in prayer. Ad vtodum prostrati in 
oratione jacehat immotns (Will. Cant. p. 135). Recto 
corpoye quasi ad orationem prostratus (Bened. p. 13). 
Videns carnifices ednctis gladiis, in modum orantis inclinavit 
caput . . . nee hrachinm ant vestem opposuit ferienti, sed 
caput, quod inclinatum gladiis exposuemt, donee consnmma- 
retur tenehat immobile (Jo. Sar. p. 320). Genu flexo, et 
orantis modo junctis ante se manibus (Herb. p. 498). 
Martyr insignis nee manum nee vestem opposuit percussori, 
nee pereussus verbum protuiit, nee clamorem edidit, non genii- 
tum, non soman eujuscumque doloris indicem ; sed caput 
quod inclinaverat gladiis evaginatis immobile tenuit, donee 
confusus sanguine et eerebro, tanquam ad orandum pronus, in 
pavimento corpus, in sinuni Abrah(B spiritum, collocavit 
(Grim, p. 438). Which do the descriptions of those 
actually present resemble the most, a man killed in a 
" furious altercation," or an " assault on a meek 
worshipper " ? 

Lastly, is it also a " mistaken tradition " that 
St. Thomas was killed " at the altar " ? Erasmus 
may have thought that the little wooden altar " at 
the sword's point " was in existence at the time of 
the martyrdom, but it would be hard to find any 
picture or sculpture representing it. Fanciful pic- 
tures may represent the high altar ; but the altar 
that might be represented with historical accuracy is 
that of St. Benedict, which was close by. The Saint 
fell, according to Fitzstephen, sccus aram, quct ibi erat, 
sancti Bencdieti (p. 141). In tempio ante altarc sacerdos 
obtulit seipsum hostiam vivam Deo (Herb. p. 498). Coram 


altayi inter consacerdotes d manus nligiosorum (Jo. Sar. 
p. 317). Coram altavi prostratus [Id. p. 318). Ante altare 
sanctiBenedicti (Lsimh MS. Anon II. p. 131). Inter cruets 
et altaris cornua. This last description, in the letter of 
the Archbishop of Sens (Ep. S. Tho. ii. p. 161) is 
literally true, for his cross was on his left, and the 
altar on his right. As the Saint fell to the right, he 
must have been just before the altar. 

NOTE J (page 419). 


" William, the King's brother," of whom Le 
Breton spoke as he dealt his blow on the head 
of the Martyr, was the third son of Geoffrey Plan- 
tagenet and the Empress IMaud. He died at Rouen 
on the 30th of January, 1164. The grievance that 
Le Breton was avenging was therefore not a recent 
one. Indeed Isabel had married Hamelin the King's 
half-brother [Supra, p. 180) in 1163, her first husband 
William of Blois having died in October, 1159. The 
resistance of St. Thomas to the marriage of Isabel 
and William may therefore have been while he was 
Chancellor, and must have been before his rupture 
with the King at Westminster and Clarendon. If 
it was during the chancellorship, it will have been 
one instance the more of the care of the Chancellor 
for the observance of ecclesiastical law. Another 
uncanonical marriage hindered by him when Chan- 
cellor was that of Matthew Count of Boulogne and 
Mary of Blois [Supra, p. 198). 

There are three views as to the relationship 
between the Countess Isabel and William, the 
brother of King Henry II. Isabel of Warrenne 


was the great-grand-daughter of Gundreda ; and 
the old and popular belief was that she was a 
daughter of William the Conqueror. If this were 
true, Isabel would have been in the third and 
fourth degrees of consanguinity, or, as we say, 
second cousin once removed, both to her first 
husband William of Blois, and to W^illiam Plan- 
tagenet, who wanted to be her second husband, 
for these two men were both great-grandsons 
of the Conqueror, the one by Adela and King 
Stephen, the other by King Henry I. and the 
Empress Maud. Hamelin, whom she did marry, 
though he was half-brother of Henry II., was not 
in the same kindred to her, as he was not the son 
of the Empress Maud. 

The second opinion, started first by Mr. Thomas 
Stapleton in 1846, and accepted b}^ Mr. Freeman 
and many recent writers, among others by Mr. 
Edwards (the Editor of the Liber Monasterii de 
Hyde in the Rolls Series, 1866, p. xcvii.), is that 
" Gundreda, wife of William first Earl of Warren 
and Surrey, was the sister of Gherbod or Gor- 
bodo, the Fleming (first Earl of Chester after 
the Conquest), and therefore not the daughter 
of the Conqueror, but of his Queen Matilda by a 
former marriage." If this were so, there was no 
relationship between Isabel and either of the 
Williams, who were descendants of the Conqueror. 
So the question could not arise, why she should 
have been permitted to marry one and not the 
other, when the relationship was the same. She 
was related to neither, and therefore could have 
married either, but the laws of the Church would 
not allow her to marry both. William Flantagenet, 
the King's brother, was second cousin to William 
of Blois, Isabel's husband ; and therefore she was 
in that degree oi affinity to him, and for that reason 


could not marry him. Hamelin Plantagenet, as we 
have seen, was not related to her first husband at 
all, and thus there was nothing to prevent his 
becoming her second husband. St. Thomas's oppo- 
sition to the marriage of Isabel and William the 
King's brother is perfectly intelligible, and indeed 
was a strict and simple duty. This relationship is 
exactly described by Fitzstephen (p. 142) in the 
words: " This William [Plantagenet] by his mother 
the Empress Mahalt, and this William [of Blois] 
Earl of Warrenne \_jnye itxovis] by his father King 
Stephen, were the sons of cousins." I am indebted 
to Mr. Everard Green, F.S.A., for the reference that 
makes this matter clear. 

The third opinion is that of Mr, Edmond Chester 
Waters {Archaoiogical Journal, No. 163, 1884, p. 300) 
who regards it that "we may safely take it as 
proved that Gundreda was neither daughter nor near 
relation of Queen Matilda." The proof adduced b}' 
Mr. Waters brings in a second impediment into 
our case, and shows that Isabel de Warrenne and 
even her first as well as her proposed husband were 
really within the degrees of kindred, within which 
at that time marriage could not be contracted. The 
fourth General Council of Lateran in 12 15, limited 
the impediment, which had previously extended to 
the seventh degree of consanguinity or sixth cousins, 
to the fourth degree or third cousins, which is the 
present law of the Church. Henry I. of England 
wished to marry his natural daughter to William 
de Warrenne II. who was the son of Gundreda. 
St. Anselm prohibited the marriage because the 
parties were related to one another in the fourth 
and sixth degree. St. Anselm w^ould never have 
based the prohibition on their being third cousins 
twice removed, if they had been first cousins ; and 
Mr, Waters reasonably concludes that Gundreda 


was not a daughter, nor indeed a near relation of 
the wife of the Conqueror. 

But, in showing us that there was a relationship, 
according to the then existing law, between William 
de Warrenne II. and a daughter of King Henry I., 
Mr. Waters makes the conclusion plain that a 
relationship, still within the prohibited degrees, 
though very distant, existed also between Isabel, 
the grand-daughter of that William de Warrenne II. 
and William Plantagenet, the grandson of Henry I. 
They were in the sixth and seventh degree, or as we 
say fifth cousins once removed. The same relation- 
ship existed between Isabel and her first husband 
William of Blois. These very distant degrees seem 
to have been overlooked in the case, and we may 
be sure that the impediment that caused St. Thomas 
to prevent the marriage of Isabel with William 
Plantagenet was that of affinity, as he was her late 
husband's second cousin. 

NOTE K (page 439). 


" FiTzuRSE, Moreville, and Tracy had all sworn 
homage to Becket while Chancellor. Fitzurse, 
Tracy, and Bret had all connections with Somerset- 
shire. Their rank and lineage can even now be 
accurately traced through the medium of our county 
historians and legal records. Moreville was of higher 
rank and office than the others. He was this very 
year Justice Itinerant of the counties of Northumber- 
land and Cumberland, where he inherited tlie barony 
of Burgh-on-the-Sands and other possessions from 
his father Roger and his grandfather Simon. He 
was likewise Forester of Cumberland, owner of the 


castle of Knaresborough, and added to his paternal 
property that of his wife, Helwise de Stuteville. 
Tracy was the younger of two brothers, sons of 
John de Studely and Grace de Traci. He took the 
name of his mother, who was daughter of William 
de Traci, a natural son of Henry I, On his father's 
side he was descended from the Saxon Ethelred. 
He was born at Toddington in Gloucestershire, 
where, as well as in Devonshire, he held large es- 
tates. Fitzurse was the descendant of Urso or Ours, 
who had under the Conqueror held Grittlestone in 
Wiltshire, of the Abbey of Glastonbury. His father, 
Richard Fitzurse, became possessed, in the reign of 
Stephen, of the manor of Willeton in Somersetshire, 
which had descended to Reginald a few years before 
the time of which we are speaking. He was also 
a tenant in chief in Northamptonshire, in tail in 
Leicestershire. Richard the Breton was, it would 
appear from an incident in the murder, intimate 
with Prince William, the King's brother. He and 
his brother Edmund had succeeded to their father 
Simon le Bret, who had probably come over with 
the Conqueror from Brittany, and settled in Somer- 
setshire, where the property of the family long con- 
tinued in the same rich vale under the Quantock 
Hills, which contains Willeton, the seat of the Fitz- 
urses. There is some reason to suppose that he was 
related to Gilbert Foliot. If so, his enmity to the 
Archbishop is easily explained. . . . 

"The murderers themselves, within the first two 
years of the murder were living at Court on familiar 
terms with the King, and constantly joined him in 
the pleasures of the chase, or else hawking and 
hunting in England. Moreville, who had been 
Justice Itinerant in the counties of Northumberland 
and Cumberland at the time of the murder, was 
discontinued from his office the ensuing year ; but 


in the first year of King John he is recorded as 
paying twenty-five marks and three good palfreys, 
for holding his court as long as Helwise his wife 
should continue in a secular habit. He procured 
about the same period a charter for a fair and mar- 
ket at Kirk Oswald, and died shortly afterwards, 
leaving two daughters. The sword which he w^ore 
during the murder is stated by Camden to have been 
preserved in his time ; and is believed to be the one 
still shown in the hall of Brayton Castle,' between 
Carlisle and Whitehaven. A cross near the castle 
of Egremont, which passed into his family, was dedi- 
cated to St. Thomas, and the spot where it stood 
is still called St. Thomas's Cross. Fitzurse is said 
to have gone to Ireland, and there to have become 
the ancestor of the M'Mahon family in the north 
of Ireland — M'Mahon being the Celtic translation of 
Bear's son. On his flight, the estate which he held 
in the Isle of Thanet, Barham or Berham Court, 
lapsed to his kinsman Robert of Berham — Berham 
being, as it would seem, the English, as M'Mahon 
was the Irish version, of the name Fitzurse. His 
estate of Willeton in Somersetshire he made over, 
half to the Knights of St. John the year after the 
murder, probably in expiation — the other half to his 
brother Robert, who built the chapel of Willeton. 
The descendants of the family lingered for a long 
time in the neighbourhood under the same name, 
successively corrupted into Fitzour, Fishour, and 
Fisher. The family of Bret or Brito was carried on 
through at least two generations of female descend- 
ants. The village of Sanford in Somersetshire is still 
called from the famil}- Sanford Bret. 

I "Now the property of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bart., where I 
saw it in 1856. The sword bears an inscription Gctt bewalir die 
aufrichten Schottcn. The word bcicahr proves that the inscription 
(whatever may be the date of the sword) cannot bo older than 
the sixteenth century" (Z)ra« Stanley's footnote). 


" Robert Fitzranulph, who had followed the four 
knights into the Church retired at that time from the 
shrievalty of Nottingham and Derby, which he had 
held during the six previous years, and is said to 
have founded a priory of Beauchief in expiation of 
his crime. But his son William succeeded to the 
office, and was in places of trust about the Court till 
the reign of John. Robert Brock appears to have 
had the custody of the castle of Hagenett or Agenet 
in East Anglia. 

"The history of Tracy is the most remarkable of 
the whole. Within four years from the murder he 
appears as Justiciary of Normandy ; he was present 
at Falaise in 11 74, when William King of Scotland 
did homage to Henry II,, and in 1176 was succeeded 
in his office by the Bishop of W^inchester. This is 
the last authentic notice of him. But his name 
appears long subsequently in the somewhat conflict- 
ing traditions of Gloucestershire and Devonshire, 
the two counties where his chief estates lay. The 
local histories of the former endeavour to identify 
him in the wars of John and of Henry III., as late 
as 12 16 and 1222. But even w'ithout cutting short 
his career by any untimely end, such longevity 
as this would ascribe to him — bringing him to a 
good old age of ninety — makes it probable that he 
has been confounded with his son or grandson. 
There can be little doubt, however, that his family 
still continues in Gloucestershire. His daughter 
married Sir Gervase de Courtenay, and it is appar- 
ently from their son Oliver de Tracy, who took the 
name of his mother, that the present Lord Wemyss 
and Lord Sudley are both descended. The pedigree, 
in fact, contrar}' to all received opinions on the 
subject of judgments on sacrilege, ' exhibits a verj' 
singular instance of an estate descending for upwards 
of seven hundred years in the male line of the same 


family.' The Devonshire story is more romantic, 
and probably contains more both of truth and of 
fable. There are two points on the coast of North 
Devon to which local tradition has attached his 
name. One is a huge rent or cavern called Crookhorn 
(from a crooked crag, now washed away) in the dark 
rocks immediately west of Ilfracombe, which is left 
dry at low water, but filled with the tide except for 
three months in the year. At one period within 
those three months, ' Sir William Tracy,' according 
to the story of the Ilfracombe boatmen, ' hid himself 
for a fortnight immediately after the murder, and was 
fed by his daughter. The other and more remark- 
able spot is Morthoe, a village situated a few miles 
further west on the same coast — ' the height or hold 
of Morte.' In the south transept of the parish church 
of this village, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is 
a tomb, for which the transept has evidently been 
built. On the black marble covering, which lies on 
a freestone base, is an inscription closing with the 
name of ' Sir William Tracy — the Lord have mercy 
on his soul.' This tomb was long supposed, and is 
still believed by the inhabitants of the village, to 
contain the remains of the murderer, who is further 
stated to have founded the church. The female 
figures sculptured on the tomb — namely, St, Catherine 
and St. Mary Magdalene, are represented as his wife 
and daughter. That this story is fabulous has now 
been clearly proved b}^ docvmientary evidence, as 
well as by the appearance of the architecture and 
the style of the inscription. The present edifice is 
of the reign of Henry VII.: the tomb and transept 
are of the reign of Edward II. ' Sir William Tracy' 
was the rector of the parish who died and left this 
chantry in 1322 ; and the figure carved on the tomb 
represents him in his sacerdotal vestments, with the 
chalice in his hand. But although there is no proof 


that the murderer was buried in the church, and 
ahhough it is possible that the whole story may- 
have arisen from the mistake concerning this monu- 
ment, there is still no reason to doubt that in this 
neighbourhood ' he lived a private life, when wind 
and weather turned against him.' William of Wor- 
cester states that he retired to the western parts of 
England, and this statement is confirmed by the 
well-attested fact of his confession to Bartholomew, 
Bishop of Exeter. The property belonged to the 
family, and there is an old farm-house, close to the 
seashore, still called Woollacombe Tracy, which is 
said to mark the spot where he lived in banishment. 
Beneath it, enclosed in black jagged headlands, ex- 
tends Morte Bay. Across the bay stretch the Wool- 
lacombe Sands, remarkable as being the only sands 
along the north coast, and as presenting a pure and 
driven expanse for some miles. Here, so runs the 
legend, he was banished ' to make bundles of the 
sand, and binds (wisps) of the same.' 

" Besides these floating traditions, there are what 
may be called two standing monuments of his con- 
nection with the murder. One is the Priory of 
Woodspring, near the Bristol Channel, which was 
founded in 12 10 by William de Courtenay, probably 
his grandson, in honour of the Holy Trinity, the 
Blessed Virgin, and St. Thomas of Canterbury. To 
this priory lands were bequeathed by Maud the 
daughter, and Alice the grand-daughter, of the third 
murderer, Bret or Brito, in the hope, expressed by 
Alice, that the intercession of the glorious martyr 
might never be wanting to her and her children. 
Its ruins still remain under the long promontory, 
called from it ' St. Thomas's Head.' In the old 
church of Kewstoke, about three miles from Wood- 
spring, during some repairs in 1852, a wooden cup, 
much decayed, was discovered in a hollow in the 


back of a statue of the Virgin fixed against the north 
wall of the choir. The cup contained a substance, 
which was decided to be the dried residuum of blood. 
From the connection of the prior}^ with the murder- 
ers of Becket, and from the fact that the seal of the 
Prior contained a cup or chalice as part of its device, 
there can be little doubt that this ancient cup [now 
in the Museum at Taunton] was thus preserved at 
the time of the Dissolution as a valuable relic, and 
that the blood which it contained was that of the 
murdered Primate. 

"The other memorial of Tracy is still more cu- 
rious, as partially confirming, and certainly illus- 
trating, the legendary account ^ of his adventure in 
Calabria. In the archives of Canterbury Cathedral 
a deed exists by which ' William de Tracy, for the 
love of God and the salvation of his own soul and 
his ancestors, and for the love of the blessed Thomas 
Archbishop and Martyr,' makes over to the Chapter 
of Canterbury the manor of Daccombe, for the 
clothing and support of a monk to celebrate Masses 
for the souls of the living and dead. The deed is 
without date, and it might possibly, therefore, have 
been ascribed to a descendant of Tracy, and not to 
the murderer himself. But its date is fixed, by the 
confirmation of Henry, attested as that confirmation 
is by ' Richard elect of Winchester ' and ' Robert 
elect of Hereford,' to the j-ear 1174 (the onl}^ year 
when Henry's presence in England coincided with 
such a conjunction in the two sees). The manor 
of Daccombe or Dockham in Devonshire is still 
held under the Chapter of Canterbury, and is 

2 "According to this story, he reached the coast of Calabria, 
and was then seized at Cosenza with a dreadful disorder, which 
caused him to tear his flesh from his bones with his own hands, 
calling, ' Mercy, St. Thomas,' and there he died miserably, after 
having made his confession to the Bishop of the place " (p. 105). 


thus a present witness of the remorse with which 
Tracy humbly begged that, on the scene of his deed 
of blood, Masses might be offered — not for himself 
individually (this, perhaps, could hardl)^ have been 
granted) — but as included in the general category of 
' the living and the dead.' But, further, this deed is 
found in company with another document, by which 
it appears that one William Thaun, before his departure 
to the Holy Land ivith his master, made his wife swear 
to render up to the Blessed Thomas and the monks 
of Canterbury all his lands, given him by his lord, 
William de Trac3\ He died on his journe3% his 
widow married again, and her second husband pre- 
vented her fulfilment of her oath ; she, however, 
survived him, and the lands were duly rendered up. 
From this statement we learn that Tracy really did 
attempt, if not fulfil, a journey to the Holy Land. 
But the attestation of the bequest of Tracy himself 
enables us to identif}^ the story still further. One of the 
witnesses is the Abbot of St. Euphemia, and there 
can be little doubt that this Abbey of St. Euphemia 
was the celebrated convent of that name in Calabria, 
not twenty miles from Cosenza, the very spot where 
the detention, though not the death, of Tracy, is 
thus, as it would appear, justly placed by the old 
story " (Dean Stanley's Historical Memorials of Canter- 
bury, gth edition, pp. 70, 106). 


NOTE L (page 469). 


In Lanfranc's church the central tower was sur- 
mounted by a golden cherub, whence it obtained 
the name of " Angel Steeple." The nave had eight 
columns on each side, and ended with two lofty 
towers with gilt pinnacles. A gilded corona hung 
in this nave. The roodloft separated the central 
tower from the nave, and before it on the western 
side stood the altar of the Holy Cross. The rood- 
beam upheld a great cross and two cherubs besides 
the images of the Blessed Virgin and St. John. 
The Lady Chapel was at the eastern end of the 
north aisle. The two western transepts were alike, 
each having a strong pillar in the middle which 
supported a groining that sprung from the transept 
walls. In the south transept on the groining was 
the organ, and beside it in an apse the altar of 
All Saints ; beneath in the same apse on the church 
floor the altar of St. Michael. Between this and 
the choir were two flights of steps, one that went 
down into the cr3'pt, the other a longer flight that 
led to the upper parts of the church. In the south 
transept the lower altar was that of St. Benedict, 
and above the vault was the altar of St. Blaise. 
On this side also there were two flights of steps, 
leading down to the crypt and up to the choir aisle. 
Before Gervase wrote, the pillar in the north 
transept was taken away with the vaulting it 
supported, that the altar erected where the martyr- 
dom took place there might be better seen, and 
where the vaulting had been a triforium or passage 
was made from which curtains and tapestry might 
be hung. From the transept there were steps up to 


the floor of the central tower, and thence again steps 
that led up to the choir. 

The choir was built by Conrad, who was Prior 
under St. Anselm, Lanfranc's successor, and it was 
called his "glorious" choir. This choir was burnt 
on the 5th of September, 11 74. There were nine 
pillars on each side of the choir, which ended in an 
apse composed of six of the pillars. In the wall 
over the arches on these pillars were " small and 
obscure " windows, above which were the triforium 
and the upper windows. Then came the ceiling, 
which was beautifully painted. It was here that 
the fire seized the church, by sparks from houses 
burning outside, which sparks were driven by a 
strong south wind under the lead roof. 

A low wall between the pillars shut in the monks' 
choir from the aisles, and the enclosure embraced 
the high altar and the altars of St. Elphege on the 
north side of the high altar, and that of St. Dunstan 
on the south, where the bodies of those two saints 
rested. The presbytery was raised three steps above 
the choir, and the high altar three steps higher still. 
The patriarchal chair [of one stone, says Ger- 
vase ; of great stones cemented, according to 
Eadmer] was immediately behind the high altar, 
looking towards it, raised on eight steps. At the 
eastern corners of the high altar were two wooden 
columns, decorated with gold and silver, which 
supported a large crossbeam over the altar. On 
it was a statue of our Lord in majesty, statues of 
St. Dunstan and St. Elphege, and seven shrines 
containing relics. Between the columns stood a 
cross gilt, adorned with sixty bright crj'stals. The 
choir was lighted by a gilded corona containing 
four-and-twenty wax candles. Under the high altar 
in the crypt was the altar of the Blessed Virgin, to 
whom the whole crypt was dedicated. 


There were three windows between Lanfranc's 
transepts and the eastern transepts, the walls of 
which were opposite to the fifth and seventh pillar 
of the choir on each side. Each of these eastern 
transepts had two apses containing altars, the 
southernmost of the two in the north-east transept 
being the altar of St. Stephen, with that of 
St. Nicholas beneath it in the crypt, the other 
being St. Martin's, the corresponding altar in the 
crypt being that of St. Mary Magdalene. The 
south-east transept had the altars of St. Gregory 
and St. John the Evangelist, with those of St. Ouen 
and St. Paulinus beneath them in the crypt, and 
St. Catherine's in front of St. Ouen's. Following 
the choir aisle eastwards, there was on each side 
a tower. That on the north side of the church 
had in it the altar of St. Andrew, with the altar of 
the Holy Innocents in the crypt ; the tower on the 
south side, which had been originally dedicated to 
SS. Peter and Paul, had been called St. Anselm's, 
since the body of that Saint was placed behind its 
altar, and beneath it in the cr3'pt was the altar of 
St. Gabriel. Between these two towers the chapel 
of the Blessed Trinity extended eastwards. Behind 
the altar on the right side was St. Odo, on the left 
St. Wilfrid of York ; on the south side by the wall 
lay Lanfranc, by the north wall Theobald. Beneath 
in the crypt were two altars, on the south that of 
St. Augustine, the Apostle of England, on the north 
St. John the Baptist's. In this lower chapel in the 
crypt was a column in the middle that bore the 
vault, and on its eastern side was the place chosen 
for the tomb of St. Thomas. 

Such was the church as St. Thomas knew it, 
Lanfranc's church with Conrad's glorious choir. 
When the choir was burnt, William of Sens super- 
intended the work for foxir years (1175 to 11 78) till 


he was disabled by a fall of the scaffolding. He 
was succeeded in the fifth year (1179) by his name- 
sake William, an Englishman, who completed the 
north and south eastern transepts and the vault over 
the high altar. The chapel of the Blessed Trinity 
was then enlarged, the old chapel being pulled 
down, and the crypt beneath, where St. Thomas lay 
in a temporary wooden chapel, was rebuilt, eight 
columns extending beyond the old foundations into 
the churchj^ard of the monks east of the church. 
The altar of the Holy Trinity, where St. Thomas 
used to say Mass, was taken down on the 8th of 
July, 1 180, and the altar of St. John, the northern- 
most of the two altars in the south-eastern transept, 
was made of it, which Gervase notes lest the 
memory of St. Thomas's favourite altar should be 
lost. As a temporary arrangement St. Odo was 
placed beneath St. Dunstan's shrine, and St. Wilfrid 
beneath St. Elphege's ; and Lanfranc was transferred 
to St. ]\Iartin's chapel, and Theobald to that of our 
Lady in the nave. Ultimately (Cotton MSS. Galba, 
E. iv. ; Dart, App. p. xlii.), St. Odo and St. Wilfrid 
were placed in shrines " at the Crown " on the south 
and north sides respectivel}^ and St. Blaise behind 
the high altar. St. Andrew's and St. Anselm's towers 
were carefully preserved, but as they radiated from 
the original apse of the church, the space between 
them was narrower than the old choir, and the new 
chapel of the Blessed Trinity being made wider than 
the old one, the line of the pillars follows an unusual 
and strikingly beautiful curve. 

Such is Gervase's account of Christ Church, 
Canterbury, as it was in the days of St. Thomas, 
and as it was rebuilt shortly after the fire that 
followed so closely on his death. Of Lanfranc's 
work not much is now remaining. His nave and 
transepts were rebuilt by Prior Chillenden betw'een 


1379 and 1400, and a turret stair in the north 
transept and perhaps some flagstones are all that 
were there at the time of the martyrdom. The 
descent to the crypt on both sides is however part of 
the old work. About 1450 or 1460 Prior Goldston I. 
transferred the Lady Chapel from the nave aisle to 
a new chapel which took the place of St. Benedict's 
altar. The central tower was built by Prior Gold- 
ston II. between 1495 and 1503, with arches between 
the piers to serve as buttresses, the arch however 
towards the Martyrdom being left open. A lantern 
above Becket's Crown was begun by the same Prior, 
but the work was abandoned when a few courses had 
been built, and in 1748 the fragment of a lantern 
base was finished off as at present, at the expense of 
Capt. Humphrey Pudner, R.N. {Christ Church, Can- 
ierhury,a Chronological Conspectus of the existing Architec- 
ture. By W. A. Scott Robertson, Hon. Can., 1881). 
There is little therefore in the upper church that 
can be pointed out as having existed in the time of 
St. Thomas, excepting the outer walls of the choir 
aisles, the eastern transepts with their beautiful 
towers, and the chapels of St. Andrew and St. Anselm. 
But the grand crypt under the choir, built between 
1096 and 1 100 by Prior Ernulf, when St. Anselm 
was Archbishop, and the sculptures of its piers and 
capitals, added between 1135 and 1165, remain 
substantially what they were when St. Thomas was 




NOTE M (page 475). 


Mr. Gough Nichols in his Erasmus (p. 118) refers 
to a sketch of the coffer containing the relics of 
St. Thomas, given on the same page of the Cottonian 
MS. (Tib. E. viii. fol. 269) as the sketch of the shrine 
already given {Supra, p. 478). He reproduces the 
sketch very unfaithfully, and describes it as if the 
head of the Saint had been " exhibited on a square 
table, together with bones." 

This error is very properly corrected by Dean 
Stanley (p. 232), who rightly calls it, " not a table, 
but the identical iron chest deposited by Langton 
within the golden shrine." 

The inscription, which was injured by the Cottonian 
fire, is thus restored by Dean Stanley from Dugdale. 
" This chest of iron contained the hones of Thomas Beckef, 
skull and all, ii>ith the ivounde of his death and the pece 
cut out of his skull laid in the same wound." 

Dean Stanley further says (p. 254), that in 
Henry VHI.'s time "the reputed skull in the 
golden ' Head ' was treated as an imposture, from 
its being so much larger than the portion that was 
found in the shrine with the rest of the bones." 
But, in truth, no such assertion was made of the 


skull or of the crown in the golden head. The 
passage from the Royal Declaration of 1539 is 
given by Mr. Albert Way in his note to Dean 
Stanley's work (p. 285), that Becket's "head almost 
whole was found with the rest of the bones closed 
within the shrine, and that there was in that church 
a great skull of another head, but much greater by 
three quarter parts than that part which was lacking 
in the head closed within the shrine." 

Now we know from Erasmus, who wrote about 
1524, that " the perforated skull of the martyr " was 
shown in the crypt. " Hinc," that is from the " sword's 
point," " digressi subimus cryptoporticum : ea habet 
suos mystagogos : illic primum exhibetur calvaria 
martyris perforata ; reliqua tecta sunt argento, 
summa cranii pars nuda patet osculo " (Stanley, 
p. 284). The portion cut off, the coyona capitis tota 
ampiitata of Fitzstephen, we have seen was kept in a 
gilt head or bust of the Saint in " Becket's Crown " 
in the upper church, of which Erasmus says, '' Illic 
in sacello quodam ostenditur tota facies optimi viri 
inaurata, multisque gemmis insignita " — in fact, the 
costly reliquar}^ made by Prior Henry of Eastry 
pro corona S. Thoma. " Matthew Parker, in his 
Antiquitates Britannica; Ecclesicc, at the close of his 
Life of Becket, observes that at first St. Thomas 
was placed less ostentatiously in the crj'pt : ' Deinde 
sublimiori et excelso ac sumptuoso delubro conditus 
fuerit, in quo caput ejus seorsim a cadavere situm, 
Thomae Martyris Corona appellabatur, ad quod 
peregrinantes undique confluerent, mimeraque pre- 
tiosa deferrent '" (Stanley, p. 282). This would 
seem to be, not the caput but the corona, which 
was kept in the upper church. Then we have 
the narrative of the visit of Madame de Montreuil 
in August, 1538. " By ten of the clock, she, her 
gentlewomen, and the [French] Ambassador went to 


the church, where I showed her St. Thomas's shrine, 
and all such other things worthy the sight ; at the 
which she was not a little marvelled of the great 
riches thereof, sa3dng it to be innumerable, and that 
if she had not seen it, all the men in the world 
could never have made her to believe it. Thus 
overlooking and viewing more than an hour, as 
well the shrine as St. Thomas's head, being at 
both set cushions to kneel, and the Prior opening 
St. Thomas's head, saying to her three times, 'This 
is Saint Thomas's head,' and offered her to kiss ; 
but she neither kneeled, nor would kiss it, but still 
viewing the riches thereof" (N ichoW Eyasinus, p. iig). 
This may have been the head of St. Thomas in the 
crypt, as the Prior opened the reliquary that the 
head might be kissed, which is in accordance with 
the account given by Erasmus. Or, not improbably, 
the crown of the head in the upper church was 
also given to be kissed, called, like the other relic, 
" St. Thomas's head," as we have seen it was called 
by the Black Prince. 

The very next month after this visit the Royal 
Commissioners for the destruction of shrines reached 
Canterbury. We may be sure that the first thing 
done was the removal of the precious stones and the- 
gold and silver. The shrine was stripped till it was; 
as plain as the sketch in the Cottonian MS., and we 
may be sure that the reliquaries of the head and of 
the crown did not escape. So far, however, the war 
was against the shrine rather than the Saint, and 
the Commissioners cared more for chests of gold and 
jewels, " such as six or eight men could but convey one 
out of the church " than for the bones of the saints. 
The head when taken out of its reliquary and the 
crown from the bust, were placed by the monks in 
the iron chest which was taken out of the shrine. 
This we learn from the sketch in the Cottonian MS., 


which must have been made after the despoiling of 
the shrine, and Mr. Way finds a needless difficulty 
" in reconciling the discrepancies " between the 
preceding accounts and the inscription on the Cot- 
tonian sketch. Dean Stanley's conjecture does no 
seem probable, that the sketch was " not meant to 
pourtray the actual relics (which were inside), but 
only a carving or painting of them on the lid." It 
is much more likely that the draughtsman desired 
to place on record at once the appearance of the 
iron chest and its contents. If, a month before, 
the head was shown in a reliquary apart from the 
chest, why should it have been painted or carved 
on the lid of the chest ? As to the statement of 
the Royal Declaration of the following year, that 
the "head almost whole was found with the rest of 
the bones closed within the shrine," this must mean 
that it was "found" later, for earlier than the 
despoiling it was not within the shrine. Now this 
might easily be, for it seems very probable that the 
relics of St. Thomas were first buried in the iron 
chest, and thus Harpsfeld comes to say, " We have 
of late unshrined him and buried his holy relics " 
(Stanley, p. 254) ; and Pope Paul III. declares that 
King Henr}'^ VIII. " Divi Thomae . . . ossa . . . exhumari 
et comburi et cineres in ventum spargi jussit." This 
inference, that the bones of St. Thomas were buried 
and before long exhumed and burnt, may perhaps 
help to reconcile the conflicting statements that they 
were buried and not burnt, burnt and not buried. 
First, the shrine was despoiled and the reliquaries 
taken awa}' ; then the iron chest, now for the first 
time containing both parts of the head, with the 
other bones, was buried ; then it was exhumed, and 
" the head almost whole was found with the rest of 
the bones ; " and lastly, all were burnt. This recon- 
ciles every statement. 


NOTE N (page 481). 


The following extracts are taken from Mr. Gough 
Nichols' translation of the account [Pilgriviages of 
St. Mary of Walsingham and St. Thomas of Canterhuvy. 
By Desiderius Erasmus. Translated with notes by- 
John Gough Nichols, F.S.A. Westminster, 1849, 
pp. 44 — 58) that Erasmus wrote, half or more than 
half in mockery, of his visit to St. Thomas. 

"That part of England which is opposite to 
France and Flanders is called Kent. Its chief city 
is Canterbury. In this city there are two monas- 
teries nearly contiguous, each following the Rule 
of St. Benedict. That which is dedicated to 
St. Augustine seems the older ; the other, which 
is now called St. Thomas's,' appears to have been 
the see of the Archbishop, where with a few chosen 
monks he passed his life, as prelates still have 
houses near to the church, but separate from the 
houses of the other canons. For formerly almost 
all bishops and canons were alike monks. That is 
evidenced by clear remains of antiquity. But the 
church dedicated to St. Thomas erects itself to 
heaven with such majesty that even from a distance 
it strikes religious awe into the beholders. So now 

I It is not true that the dedication of the Church was 
changed, but it is true that the universal phrase was "going 
to St. Thomas." "Though the MetropoHtan Church, in which 
he suffered, bore the title of the Blessed Trinity, God yielded it 
to His Martyr, as though he had bought it at the price of his 
blood, and it began rather to be called by his name, so that any 
one would count it no slight fault if, on going to Canterbury or 
returning, he were not to say that he was 'going to St. Thomas,' 
or that he was 'returning from St. Thomas ' " (Lambeth MS. 
Materials, iv. p." 142). 


with its splendour it dazzles the eyes of its neigh- 
bour, and as it were casts into the shade a place 
which was anciently most sacred. There are two 
vast towers, that seem to salute the visitor from 
afar, and make the surrounding country far and 
wide resound with the wonderful booming of their 
brazen bells. In the porch of the church, which 
is towards the south, are stone statues of the three 
knights who with impious hands murdered the most 
holy man. Their family names are inscribed : 
Tuscus, Fuscus, and Berrus.^ . . . 

" On your entrance the edifice at once displays 
itself in all its spaciousness and majesty. To that 
part any one is admitted. . . . 

" Is nothing to be seen there ? 

" Nothing, except the magnitude of the structure, 
and some books fixed to the pillars, among which 
is the Gospel of Nicodemus, and the monument of 
I know not who. 

" What comes next ? 

" The iron screens stop further progress, but yet 
admit a view of the whole space from the choir to 
the end of the church. To the choir you mount 
by many steps, under which is a passage leading 
north. At that spot is shown a wooden altar, 
dedicated to the holy Virgin, but mean, nor remark- 
able in any respect, unless as a monument of anti- 
quity, putting to shame the extravagance of these 
times. There the pious man is said to have 
breathed his last farewell to the Virgin when his 
death was at hand. On the altar is the point of 
the sword, with which the head of the most excellent 
prelate was cleft, and his brain stirred, that he 

2 Dean Stanley says (p. 113 note) that in Hentzner's Travels in 
England, 1598, it is mentioned that the names engraved in the 
south porch, under incised figures of three soldiers, were Tusci, 
Fusci, and Berri. *' 


might be the more instantly despatched. The 
sacred rust of this iron, through love of the Martyr, 
was religiously kissed. Leaving this spot, we 
descended to the crypt. It has its own priests. 
There was iirst exhibited the perforated skull of 
the Martyr ; the forehead is left bare to be kissed, 
while the other parts are covered with silver. At 
the same time is shown a slip of lead, engraved 
with his name, ' Thomas Acrensis.' There also 
hang in the dark the hair-shirts, the girdles and 
bandages, with which that prelate subdued his 
flesh ; striking horror with their very appearance, 
and reproaching us for our indulgence and our 
luxuries. . . . 

" From hence we returned into the choir. On 
the north side the armories were unlocked : it is 
wonderful to tell what a quantity of bones was there 
brought out. . . . We next viewed the table of the 
altar and its ornaments, and then the articles which 
are kept under the altar, all most sumptuous. . . . 
After this we were led to the sacristy. . . . There 
we saw the pastoral staff of St. Thomas. It appeared 
to be a cane covered with silver plate ; it was of 
very little weight and no workmanship, nor stood 
higher than to the waist. 

" Was there no cross ? 

" I saw none. A pall was shown, which, though 
wholly of silk, was of a coarse texture and unadorned 
with gold or jewels. There was also a sudary, dirty 
from wear, and retaining manifest signs of blood. 
These monuments of the simplicit}' of ancient times 
we willingly kissed. 

" Are not they shown to anybody ? 

" By no means, my good friend. 

"Whence then was such confidence reposed in 
you, that no secret thing was reserved ? 

" I had some acquaintance with the Reverend 


Father William Warham, the Archbishop; he had 
given me a note of introduction. . . . 

" From this place, then, we were conducted back 
to the upper floor, for behind the high altar you 
ascend again, as into a new church. There in a little 
chapel is shown the whole figure of the excellent 
man, gilt, and adorned with many jewels {Illic in 
sacello qitodam ostendittiv tota fades optimi vivi iiiaiirata, 
multisque gemmis insignita).^ . . .